Who We Are
Simply put, Opengate, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) private, not-for-profit residential and day program facility serving developmentally disabled adults, including those who may also be behaviorally challenged.
The agency was originally founded to support the individual with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to develop and express their unique potential. Through its residential and day services, Opengate assists individuals in making informed choices that enhance their lives. We do this through person-centered planning, therapeutic and specialized clinical services and individualized programming. This is why Opengate has been designated as an Emerging COMPASS Agency by New York State and continues to progress toward full COMPASS status. Designation as a COMPASS agency involves a rigorous accreditation process that less than one per cent of agencies serving people with developmental disabilities in the State of New York have attained.
A little bit of history…
Opengate was founded at our 27-acre Somers site in 1969 when there was an opportunity for seismic change as the veil was lifted on shameful warehousing of the disabled at the Staten Island-based Willowbrook Schools. Courageous and committed parents who sought a caring community solution for their adult, developmentally disabled children were the catalyst that became Opengate. Through their vision of what their families needed, they overcame bureaucracies and financial hurdles to forge that vision into the reality of group home care.
Opengate continues to honor then-rookie journalist Geraldo Rivera for exposing the Willowbrook travesty on national television that resulted in trailblazing legislation. The New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) refers to the 1972 Willowbrook lawsuit as “not only a landmark case and catalyst for the State of New York to reform its service system for people with developmental disabilities, but also as a symbol for raising the conscience of a nation.”
Our Story with Geraldo Rivera
“It is our steadfast recognition of the worth and dignity of each person as an individual and a respected member of society that makes our commitment ever stronger.”
–Brian Hulten, LCSW, Chief Executive Officer
Then and now, Opengate homes remain homes in every sense of the word. They are places where the respect, interest and safety of the residents come first. We are ever-grateful for the dedication and spirit of our founding parents that shaped the work that we continue into our sixth decade. Opengate champions every consumer it serves as a valued member of society, proudly advocating their individual rights to become part of the mainstream to their maximum capacity.