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Nonotuck’s Human Rights Committees: Helping Those We Support Overcome Barriers of Inequality

For several decades, Nonotuck has maintained and empowered three human rights committees across the state to protect, affirm, and honor the rights of the people we support.

In addition to following Department of Developmental Services (DDS) regulations, these committees collaborate to guard against the violation of human rights and ensure that the rights of the people we support will not be compromised. 

Nonotuck has committees in three sections of the state: east, central, and western Massachusetts. Each committee is comprised of a minimum of five members—at least three of whom are individuals receiving services or family members or advocates—as well as a physician or nurse, attorney or law student, and psychologist or at least Master’s level clinician. 

The committees meet quarterly, fulfilling many important duties, including investigating grievances and allegations of mistreatment, reviewing Nonotuck policy as it relates to human and civil rights, and training people Nonotuck serves to exercise their rights. 

“People with disabilities face discrimination and barriers that restrict them from participating in our communities on an equal basis with others every day,” says Nonotuck President/CEO George H. Fleischner.  “Since 1987 it has been a role of the Human Rights Committees to fight against this discrimination and to help overcome the barriers.”

Documents designed by the committee recently caught the eye of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS).  The committee drafted an intensive tutorial on how reports can be written to use inclusive, neutral, and respectful language about the people Nonotuck serves. Additionally, the report provides insight on how to avoid negative, stigmatizing, or demeaning terminology. 

“We must write about the people we support both mindfully and meaningfully, and always consider how we would like to be portrayed if we had a Case Manager writing and presenting about us,” says Grayson Fleischner, Western Massachusetts Human Rights Coordinator. “As we know, language is ever-evolving, and we have a responsibility to always be on the forefront of this.”

If you are interested in this unique and meaningful volunteer opportunity with the Human Rights Committee, please contact Grayson Fleischner at gfleischner@nonotuck.com.

“(Through shared living) people with a disability experience a real transformation and discover confidence in themselves; they discover their capacity to make choices, and also find a certain liberty and above all their dignity as human beings.”

Caregiving with Love:
Guide for Shared Living Providers

Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.

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