In 1963 the Co. Donegal Association of Parents and Friends with Intellectual Disabilities, originally known as Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped was established.
Fifty years ago training, education and care for those in Donegal with special needs were totally neglected by the Health and Education Services locally.
These services were available but only in distant locations such as Sligo, Galway, Dublin etc.
The Association was established in co-operation with the then North West Health Board (now the HSE) and over the years special schools, training centres, residential centres, respite centres and areas of special needs were established in the County.
In addition of psychiatric, psychological, therapeutic, speech and language, medical and many other services that has been provided in the County for those in need.
Progress in the last 50 years has been such that Donegal is now one of the forerunners in Ireland in providing the necessary care for people with special needs.
In more recent years, The Donegal Housing Association has been established which is an offshoot of the Association.
The D.H.A in conjunction with the HSE, the Department of the Environment and the Donegal County Council are providing magnificent facilities in various locations throughout the County. None of these services or amenities would have come about without the necessary finance being made available to the Association.
So much of this money was provided by the people of the County through their generous donations at our church gate collections, dances, sales of goods and functions of all descriptions, not least through gifts and legacies.
This hard work and dedication of collectors and organisers of these fundraising events has to be acknowledged, but could never adequately be appreciated.
The Association has gone from strength to strength over the 50 years.
New members or interested groups are very welcome. A function to celebrate the founding will he held soon.