Mission Statement
To promote and protect the health, human rights, and safety of our relatives and friends who are impaired by developmental disabilities.

About Us
Advocacy Network is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of more than 300 concerned parents, relatives, and guardians of persons afflicted with developmental disabilities (formerly referred to as mental retardation).  While the bulk of our membership is from Massachusetts, we also have many members throughout New England and across the U.S.

Advocacy Network serves both Ricci Class and Non-Class Members.  Since the developmentally disabled cannot speak for themselves, we advocate to ensure appropriate housing, care and services for this population throughout Massachusetts.  We also offer support for family members and guardians.

We are all volunteers, with no paid staff.  Our Board of Directors meets at 6:00 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month, September through June, at Holyoke Community College.  Holyoke Community College 303 Homestead Avenue Holyoke, MA 01040.  We meet in the President’s Room, located in the Frost Building.  Everyone is welcome to attend our meetings.  Please contact us in advance to confirm.

Advocacy Network is affiliated with COFAR, the Coalition of Families and Advocates www.cofar.org and nationally with VOR www.vor.net  

The Belchertown Story 
Originally established in 1954 as the Belchertown State School Friends Association, we incorporated as Advocacy Network in 1992.  In 1973, under the leadership of the late Dr. Benjamin Ricci (author of Crimes Against Humanity) and Attorney Beryl Cohen, the Belchertown State School Friends Association fought a successful battle in U.S. Federal Court in Boston to force improvements in care for the state’s mentally retarded citizens served by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation and its privately contracted vendor agencies.

The resulting Consent Decree issued by Judge Joseph L. Tauro in this landmark class action included creation of the Individual Service Plan (ISP), a legally binding process that provides input from family members and guardians in the care of their loved ones.

Under our vigilance, the ISP is still the most important tool to safeguard the welfare of those with mental retardation.

Advocacy Network remains dedicated to this cause.
Advocacy Network
P.O. Box 2071
Amherst MA 01004
E-mail: adnetnews@comcast.net
Board of Directors
[all from Massachusetts]

​Edward Orzechowski, Northampton
Donald Vitkus, Chicopee
Gail Orzechowski, Northampton
Diana Dufff, East Longmeadow
Editor, Advocacy Network News
Edward Orzechowski, Northampton

Board Members
Ernestine Booth, East Longmeadow
Richard Gowen, Palmer
Frank Pietryka, Bernardston
Kathleen Pietryka, Bernardston
Edward Strout, Worcester
Franklin Surrette, Chicopee
Advocacy Network, Inc.- website designed by Kathy Lamanca, Public Image Consultant