On January 9, 2023, LaTonya S. Reeves died after a short illness.
Governor Polis only recently appointed Ms. Reeves to the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council to represent a person with developmental disabilities. For those who serve on the Membership Workgroup or attended the most recent orientation, you could not miss the passion in the voice of LaTonya Reeves when she discussed freedom. She understood that ensuring access to Home and Community-Based Services for all eligible people who need them, without discrimination, is essential to achieving freedom for people with developmental and other disabilities.
LaTonya Reeves (image from ADAPT)
Ms. Reeves was the namesake for H.R. 6860, The LaTonya Reeves Freedom Act, a bill that prohibits government entities and insurance providers from denying community-based services to individuals with disabilities that require long-term service or support that would enable such individuals to live in the community and lead an independent life. Specifically, these entities may not discriminate against such individuals in the provision of community-based services by such actions as imposing prohibited eligibility criteria, cost caps, or waiting lists or failing to provide a specific community-based service. Additionally, community-based services must be offered to individuals with such disabilities prior to institutionalization. Institutionalized individuals must be notified regularly of community-based alternatives.
In honor of our powerhouse colleague, the Council will spend some time at next week’s Council meeting learning about the federal legislation that carries her name.
In the letter to the Governor that accompanied her application for Council membership Ms. Reeves explained, “I am a 59-year-old resident of Denver. I attended Shettfield High School in Memphis, where I earned my diploma. Then I attended Memphis State University. I studied Psychology but did not finish a degree. In the 1980s and 1990s, I worked at Atlantis as a Community Organizer. I got promoted and helped people transition out of nursing homes. Making sure that people with disabilities do not live in nursing homes or institutions is very important to me. I have lived in an institution and a nursing home in the past because Tennessee did not offer the supports and services I needed. That is why I came to Colorado.”
Ms. Reeves recently told us “I like it when I help someone get out of a nursing home.” In a May 2008 story that ran in New Mobility, she discussed meeting Wade Blank and coming to Denver to build a new life.
Today Ms. Reeves we celebrate you. Though we are sad to see you go too soon, The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council honors all you did to settle for nothing less than equity and to help others do the same.