Over 50 Years of Innovation and Caring.
In 1971, Life's WORC Founder Victoria Schneps-Yunis organized volunteers to picket and fight for the rights of the more than 5,000 residents at the disgraced Willowbrook State School. Vicki's advocacy work was inspired by her daughter Lara, who was diagnosed with severe brain damage at an early age and had been a resident at Willowbrook.
In 1972, investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera exposed the brutal living conditions inside the Staten Island-based school, which at the time was the largest institution in the country serving children with developmental disabilities. The story helped gain national media attention which ultimately led to the closing of the school, which had fallen into disrepair following state funding cuts.
WORC, as the organization was once known, went on to purchase the first group home in Little Neck, Queens, which would later be named the Rivera residence in honor of Geraldo Rivera. The first people to live in the home were children who previously resided at Willowbrook.
Continuing the Life's WORC mission, the organization opened group homes across Queens and Nassau County throughout the 1980s. These new homes included Rivera, William Road, Schneps, Springfield A and B, and Nubile A and B.
In the 1990s Life’s WORC’s first Day Habilitation Program, Life Links I, opened in Queens. Designed to provide enriching activities, socialization, and skill-building opportunities for teens and adults with intellectual disabilities with varying levels of support needs, Day Habilitation programs filled an important gap in services
The 1990s were also busy for Life's WORC Residential Services, opening homes across Queens and Nassau County and expanding into Suffolk County. New homes included Antonioli, Lindenhurst, Conduit A & B, Foont, Butler, Manzo, Park Avenue, and Roberts residences.
The early 2000s were an important time for Life's WORC. The agency moved to a new headquarters in Garden City and opened even more homes across Queens and Long Island. In addition, we expanded the Day Habilitation Programs to include six locations in the same areas. Some of the new homes included Rosedale, Filomena, Udall Road, Laurelton, St. Albans, Claremont, Abi Zeid, Queens Village, Borer, Dix Hills, Garden City Park, 51st Street, Hauppauge, Ozone Park, Drakeford, Duke Street, Valley Stream, Holliswood and Westbury.
In 2006 Life’s WORC Trust Services was established to meet the financial needs of the people we support and their loved ones to protect their assets and secure their financial futures.
As the need for programs and services for people with autism rose, Life's WORC opened The Family Center For Autism (FCA) to better serve this community. The FCA opened in April of 2015, introducing an inclusive environment where people of all ages and abilities can explore a variety of activities, classes, and programs for people with special needs and their loved ones.
The current decade brought new and unexpected challenges to Life’s WORC, but through it all we have continued to provide safe, quality supports and services to the 2,000 people under our care. Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, the staffing crisis and inflation, Life’s WORC has continued its mission to innovate and expand to support the special needs community. In the same year we celebrated our 50thanniversary, the agency was also approved for five new residences, which will bring the total to 50 homes. In addition, our newest endeavor, WORC Force Community Center, is expected to open in 2024. WORC Force will bring new skills and training programs and increased vocational and employment opportunities to the people we support and community at large.
In an effort to be more inclusive and accurately represent the offerings available to the community at large, in 2023 the FCA was renamed the Family Center for Achievement. This change reflected the fact that the FCA expertise extends beyond autism to support other disabilities, and expanded offerings to those without disabilities and the community.