As the president of the AHRC Nassau and the brother of a special needs individual, I read with great interest the article "End of an era" [News, July 4].

I can't say I disagree with the concept of integrating the disabled population into the "mainstream" and paying them minimum wage or better. However, that is not something I see as best for all concerned.

The workshops are places that not only provide our population with work, but also where they share their lives with others who are in the same life status. Sure, we would love to see all of our individuals working and living independently, but realistically, that is not an attainable goal.

Many of our people are able to work outside the workshops, but others would not fare as well. All one needs to do is look at the photo that accompanied the article to understand that many of our people are happy working where they are and socializing with their peers.

How many jobs are there on Long Island that would fit our population's needs? How does AHRC find the jobs, and who pays for the required job coaches? What happens to those who can't find a job? Do we return to the days when there was nothing for our people, other than to stay home and sit around all day with no socialization?

Let's slow down this train and give those who can opportunities to work where they choose.

Paul Giordano, Westbury
Editor's note: AHRC Nassau is a non-profit organization providing services and supports to people with developmental disabilities.

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My son was employed at a sheltered workshop for 21 years. Closing them would be a huge mistake.

People I know who tried to mainstream their children into the regular workforce have found it very difficult. The people who conceived this idea have no idea of the harm they are causing.

The story said the new plan will take six years to implement, and if it's a failure, then whatt I think some bureaucrat is trying to make a name for himself saving money on the backs of people who cannot defend themselves.

Gene Reynolds, Ridge

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Go inside New York politics.

Yes, Virginia, they are going to take away your workshop and your sense of worth. More than 30 years ago, Virginia Budd -- pictured in Newsday on Saturday -- was a happy young adult learning about the world of work in a sheltered workshop in Islip. The photo shows Virginia still happy and employed, with her peers. Workshops were conceived to give people a place to succeed.

According to the article, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will end this positive atmosphere.

When these individuals fail in the marketplace -- and they will; otherwise they would already be there -- where will they gog What nursing home or facility will simply house theme There will be no sense of pride, no reward for work or any mental stimulation.

I know from experience because Budd and 14 of her peers succeeded in the Islip workshop, where I was a teacher.

Joel Reitman, Peconic