For people of the North Country, United Helpers delivers the specialized medical, physical, and emotional support needed to be connected to life. We've been caring for our neighbors for more than 120 years, and no other provider comes close to the reach of our network, the breadth of our services, or the depth of our commitment. United Helpers is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit.


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United Helpers Holds Celebration for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

United Helpers Holds Celebration for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

While not everyone who attended the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Barbecue participated in the walk, a group of nearly 50 hearty souls took off on a walk from the fire hall, across the State Street Bridge, and back to
promote developmental disability awareness. The walk and barbecue were organized by United Helpers Behavioral Health and Life Skills Program Leader Whitney Atkins, who oversees the Flackville Road IRA in Heuvelton.

HEUVELTON – Holding signs that said things like, “The only disability is a bad attitude,” “My ability is stronger than my disability,” and “Keep staring, I might do a trick,” a group of nearly 50 individuals with developmental disabilities and their caregivers took to the streets of Heuvelton for a walk to celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

United Helpers Behavioral Health and Life Skills operates 10 Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) across St. Lawrence County, providing employment to more than 250 individuals, while also caring for nearly 50 individuals with developmental disabilities.

One of those IRAs is located in the village of Heuvelton, with two more scheduled to open later this year. Whitney Atkins organized the event and serves as program leader at the Flackville IRA located in Heuvelton.

“The people we care for in these IRAs are just that, people – just like you and me,” she said. “An IRA is a home – their home. IRAs have a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, and each individual who resides there has their own personalized bedroom.”

Ms. Atkins explained, “The primary responsibilities for those of us who work in their home, are centered on supporting the individuals in leading self-directed lives. We do this by working with them to maximize their potential by assisting with maintaining and/or developing skills and abilities. These skills are what helps the individuals interact in their community to the maximum degree that they are interested.”

Staff from United Helpers Behavioral Health and Life Skills proudly display a tie-dyed banner created by program members at the Flackville Road IRA. The banner was signed by many of them, as well as staff from United Helpers. From left, Direct Support Professional Jennifer Davison, Program Leader Whitney Atkins, who organized the event, and Direct Support Professionals Brook Duprey, and April Streeter.

Prior to the walk program members and IRA staff from across the organization gathered for a barbecue at the Heuvelton Fire Hall with those present signing a large, tie-dyed banner with the words “Developmental Disability Awareness 2022” on it.

Developmental Disability Awareness Month is celebrated each year in March. According to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), activities during the month of March are designed to “highlight the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities.”

“United Helpers has been caring for individuals with developmental disabilities for more than 30 years,” said United Helpers Behavioral Health and Life Skills Director of Residential Services Colleen Aldridge. “It always has been and always will be our mission to provide the people we care for with the highest quality of life possible. Whether it be helping them find jobs in the community, trips to concerts, fairs, and amusement parks, or simply being there for them with a hug or words of encouragement, we really are, as our tagline says, “Always Caring.”

1 Comment
  • Fran Naccarato
    June 22, 2022 at 9:35 pm

    Again Benny, a wonderful description of this celebration. Did this appear in any newspaper? I haven’t seen it as a news article, and I think its a real human interest story. It makes the entire community see and understand what is going on.

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