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    Wednesday, April 17, 2024

    Be an Angel: Robby’s Cause filling a need for unique population

    Autistic artist Robby Porter explains his art work with the help of his mother Sherri Zumo at the La Grua Center in Stonington Saturday, April 16, 2016.

    I have a 20-year-old son, Robby Porter, who is profoundly deaf, autistic, intellectually disabled, legally blind and has numerous medical issues. He has undergone 28 surgeries and he needs one-to-one support 24 hours a day for the rest of his life.

    Yet he is also very capable of a productive, happy life with the right supports.

    He is a very talented artist as well. The Day covered my story several years back when I was fighting to get him into a specialized program at the American School for the Deaf.

    Robby, who grew up in Mystic, will be graduating from ASD this June.

    I have been searching for five years to find an agency willing to open up a specialized group home with qualified staff to provide a communication rich environment for my son and others like him.

    I have finally succeeded. Marrakech Inc. has agreed to help make my dreams come true.

    We have gone about setting up this program creatively due to budgeting constraints and have collaborated with Northwestern Connecticut Community College to provide ASL fluent staffing, internships and provide recreational and employment opportunities on campus for my son and the others. Once this home is up and running, we will then continue to open up more homes with this program as the model until the need is met.

    This mission has been named “Robby’s Cause.” We are looking to spread awareness on this program and to raise money to help fill in gaps that funding may not cover with this unique population, as well as quality of life issues.

    Once this home is up and running, we hope to grow the program and open up more homes for this population so that all “Robby’s” will no longer be left behind.

    Our first fundraiser is coming up from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the Hilton Garden Inn. Tickets are $40 and include a buffet, door prizes, silent auction and music. For tickets, call 860-235-7903 or email szummo6@comcast.net or Awest.writer@gmail.com.

    We have a goal of raising at least $50,000 before June to help jump start this program and fill in gaps that the funding from DDS doesn’t cover. If you would like to learn more about Marrakech, email Jay Korman at jkorman@marrakechinc.org or call (203) 389-2970 ext. 1030.

    Sherri Zummo is a resident of Mystic.

    Be an Angel is a regular feature in the Times. To submit, email times@theday.com.

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