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February 21, 2013

LETTER: Remembering Opportunities Unlimited founder

Tonawanda News — Niagara County lost a special woman recently – Edith Hunter. Nearly 60 years ago, Mrs. Hunter helped found the agency known today as Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, a not-for-profit agency providing a wide range of services for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities residing in Niagara County, as well as neighboring communities.

From humble beginnings in borrowed locations where children with developmental disabilities were educated, to opening some of the first community-based residences in New York state, to providing present-day employment, educational, recreational and volunteer opportunities in the community for people with disabilities – these things have only been made possible by the steadfast love and determination of our founding parents, their families and their friends.

As the mother of two adults with severe disabilities participating in Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara for more than 25 years, I am so grateful to Mrs. Hunter and the other founders for having the perseverance and dedication to achieving their goal of providing individuals with developmental disabilities the care, education and life skills they need to live full and productive lives.

As parents, we all want what is best for our children, and to try to provide them with a quality of life others take for granted. Because of Mrs. Hunter’s vision and advocacy, more than 700 individuals and their families have vital programs and services available to them today locally. Some of the more progressive programs provided by dedicated and compassionate professionals and volunteers now include: fine arts; horticulture therapy; camp; technology, and on-campus job readiness, fitness and other learning experiences at Niagara University.

Let us be reminded that the legacy left to us by Mrs. Hunter, and the other founders of Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, requires not only family members but the whole community to continue to advocate on behalf of people with developmental disabilities.

Marie-Therese Frieri



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