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Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Oneida, NY – Michelle Wolfe has received the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Self-Advocacy Award for her commitment and contribution to self-advocacy from the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State.

Ralph Collins is one of Michelle’s staff through Self-Direction. He comments on what motivates her on a daily basis. “Michelle keeps moving forward, never forgetting where she was.”

Michelle has faced many obstacles throughout her life due to her disability before she started to receive services at The Arc of Madison Cortland. ”I grew up being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it.” Michelle continues, “I was an adult when I learned that I had a voice. People started listening to me and suddenly my life changed.”

As an active Board Member at The Arc of Madison Cortland, as well as a longtime member of the Madison County Motivators, Michelle advocates for herself and others on a daily basis.

Today, Michelle drives herself to her three jobs in a car that she purchased herself. She also pays her rent and bills for her apartment where she lives independently with her dog, Paige. There is often little time between achieving one of her goals and setting a new one; Michelle is currently saving to buy a house.

For more information about the Madison County Motivators contact Bonnie VanDusen at or look for them on Facebook. You can also learn more about Self-Direction at The Arc of Madison Cortland by contacting Meredith Mertens at or by calling (315) 363-3389.


The Arc of Madison Cortland, a chapter of The Arc New York, is a family-led organization that advocates and provides support and services to people with developmental and other disabilities, emphasizing choice and full community engagement.

For over 50 years, The Arc has advocated for people with developmental disabilities and provided a wide range of programs and services: self-direction brokerage, residential, respite, family support, employment programs, day habilitation programs, guardianship, clinical services, and transportation.

The Arc of Madison Cortland continues to promote choice, self-advocacy, person-centered outcomes and has earned national CQL Accreditation with Person-Centered Excellence.

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