Barry Simon, president & CEO of Oak Hill

In this, yet again, unusual holiday season, we give thanks for all the dedicated, essential direct support, administrative, and health care professionals of Oak Hill, Gilead Community Services, and Easterseals of Oak Hill as they continue to provide daily services and support to people with disabilities across the state.

Providing special education in our school classrooms, working in group homes, supporting people in their own or family homes, or providing supports in our clinics and centers, they provide care tirelessly and often with self-sacrifice every day. Their response to being on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic has been to commit themselves even more to the people they serve.

Recognizing the demographics of our 1,500 employees, 76% of whom are women and 64% of whom identify as a person of color, we see fair compensation – a living wage that keeps up with inflation, health insurance, and retirement benefits – as an equity issue that must be addressed with a long-term solution by the State of Connecticut, which funds our services. For this we would be tremendously thankful!

Connecticut must act now to recognize these essential workers and protect them, their families, and the people who they care for and about every day. Our elected officials should provide:

  1. Appropriate funding and Medicaid rate increases for community nonprofits who have been underfunded since 2007, and;
  2. Modernize the Health and Human Service Delivery System to Leverage and fully pass on Federal and State resources to sustain quality services going forward to grow rather than reduce services.

Collaboration in the work we do is vital. And there is no better time like the one we are in now, to continue to come together and help one another navigate the challenges that lay before us. Now is the time to focus on the impact that the Oak Hill mission, and those like ours, has on everyone across Connecticut.

As we press on, providing the specialty healthcare and special education services that we do, we hope our elected officials recognize how critical our employees are to the community. We have seen the outpouring of support from the public. Your desire to support us is what carries us through. Now we hope our elected officials will do the same when they get down to business after the holidays.

Barry Simon

Barry Simon

Barry Simon is president and chief executive officer of Oak Hill, Connecticut’s largest private provider of services to people with disabilities.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of or any of the author's other employers.