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Bar News - August 15, 2008


DRC Launches Fundraising Effort

By:

As the Disabilities Rights Center celebrates its 30-year anniversary, it is launching its second annual fundraising campaign. The DRC is the designated statewide legal services organization which protects and advocates for the rights of the over 200,000 people with disabilities in New Hampshire. The DRC’s recent annual report reflects another year in which the Center made a huge difference in the lives of many children and adults of all ages in the state.

The DRC provided advice and representation this past year to over 1,750 individuals and to many others through a number of systemic litigation and policy initiatives. The systemic initiatives included:

· the developmental disability and brain injury disability waitlist and quality services legislation (SB 138 in ‘07);

· special education reform legislation (HB 661 in ’07 and HBs 766 & 679 in ’08);

· and the start-up of a central registry of abusers for the adult disability and elderly systems (in ‘07 based on legislation from the previous year).

These initiatives have impacted or will impact over 50,000 children and adults and their families. The DRC will need to have a major role to ensure implementation of these and other policy initiatives, such as those related to the state’s "mental health services crisis" and at the same time keep up with the ongoing demand for individual representation.

While the DRC’s fundraising campaign is reaching beyond Bar members, we will again make a strong appeal to fellow Bar members who are in a position to appreciate the time and effort involved in disability rights representation and the complexity of the legal issues and the economic constraints and discriminatory barriers our clients often face.

Though a recent increase in IOLTA funding has helped, it has not offset the flat and decreased federal funding, growing restrictions on civil rights attorney fees’ recovery, and increased operating expenses. These recent developments require us to seek private contributions. Last year the DRC raised slightly over $12,000 from private donations plus $100,000 from a one-time anonymous donation. To achieve this year’s modest goal of $25,000, the DRC Board is hoping for increased support from past donors, whom we have recognized in our annual report; we hope also to draw support from many new donors.

Contributions to the DRC, which prides itself on its efficiency and effectiveness, will enable the organization to sustain and increase its advocacy so that children with disabilities will have increased opportunities to achieve their potential, more adults with disabilities can obtain rewarding employment, and vulnerable senior citizens with disabilities will be better protected from abuse, restraint or exploitation.

Information on the DRC, its recent annual report, and how to contribute may be found at www.drcnh.org or by contacting the DRC directly.

Richard A. Cohen, Esq., is executive director of the Disabilities Rights Center, headquartered in Concord.

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