Marie Carrubba honored by state advocacy group

Submitted Photo: Tess Kerzner, right, presents the certificate of appreciation to Marie Carrubba.

Marie Carrubba, a longtime member of The Resource Center’s board of directors, has been honored for her volunteer efforts on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities.

Carrubba recently received a certificate of appreciation from The Arc New York’s Guardianship Program. The group gave Carrubba the honor in recognition of her involvement with The Resource Center’s Guardianship Committee.

Some people with intellectual disabilities are incapable of making decisions regarding their health care. If they don’t have a family member to serve as their legal guardian, The Arc New York can be appointed to serve in that capacity. The Arc New York serves as guardian for several people living in TRC homes. As the Chautauqua County chapter of The Arc New York, The Resource Center helps to fulfill the role of legal guardian through the efforts of its Guardianship Committee, which is composed of community volunteers and TRC staff.

Carrubba has served on TRC’s Guardianship Committee for many years. Because she is an attorney as well as the executive director of the Southwestern Independent Living Center, she provides valuable legal and professional expertise about guardianship issues when they arise.

“Marie’s dedication to our Guardianship Committee has been longstanding, and she has assisted members in understanding the legal aspects of issues that have come up regarding the people we support,” said Tess Kerzner, the coordinator of TRC’s guardianship committee. “Not only is she knowledgeable, but her connections with the community on disability rights and issues are amazing and vast.”

Kerzner added that Carrubba supports people with disabilities in other ways, such as providing training to agencies on how to work with people with disabilities; working with schools on transitioning and work incentive programs; advocating for allocation of grant monies to benefit people with disabilities; and fighting for people’s entitlements and benefits through programs such as the Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Income and the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Carrubba also serves on a number of local boards, committees and legislative bodies, and in those roles she advocates for people with disabilities.

When asked why she is so dedicated to the service of people with disabilities, Carrubba responded, “I always felt that people who cannot advocate for themselves need people to be their voice and get the word out.” She added that another motivating factor for her occurred in the 1980s, when The Resource Center encountered opposition from people regarding TRC’s plan to operate community residences for people with intellectual disabilities. Carrubba was appalled that people protested the concept of locating a group home in their neighborhood.

“Marie has been there since that time, fighting for the rights of people with disabilities,” Kerzner said. “We at TRC are grateful and honored to have had Marie on our Guardianship Committee for the past 25 years.”

Carrubba received the certificate at TRC’s December Guardianship Committee. Carrubba said she was humbled to receive the honor, adding that she believes the family members who volunteer their time to serve on the committee and TRC’s staff are the people who deserve recognition.