Life’s WORC Celebrate 50 Gala
50th Anniversary Gala to Honor Famed Journalist Geraldo Rivera & Life’s WORC Founder Victoria Schneps-Yunis
Life’s WORC is proud to “Celebrate 50” this year, marking fifty years of service to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Life’s WORC will host their 50th Anniversary Gala celebrating the hard-working people of the organization, and will honor Trailblazing Journalist Geraldo Rivera of FOX News, and Life’s WORC Founder Victoria Schneps-Yunis, President & Co-Publisher, Schneps Media.
They invite you to join them in celebrating their homes, non-residential programs, Family Center for Autism, and Supportive Employment program at the Celebrate 50 Gala on Friday, April 1, 2022, from 6:30pm — 10:30pm at The Garden City Hotel in Garden City, NY. The longtime, leading broadcaster and hometown Long Islander Bill O’Reilly will be the Gala Keynote Speaker.
Celebrate 50 is a year-long acknowledgement of Life’s WORC’s proud past and a commitment to a promising tomorrow. While they honor and are grateful for Life’s WORC’s history, the journey has truly just begun.
For more information, please visit lifesworc.org/celebrate50/
About Geraldo Rivera: One of media’s most enduring broadcasters, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Geraldo Rivera is the Fox News Correspondent-at-Large. A rotating co-host on “The Five,” Geraldo provides regular reports and commentary on FNC’s “Fox and Friends,” “Hannity,” and various programs on Fox News and Fox Nation. Geraldo joined the network in 2001 as a war correspondent following the 9/11 attacks on his New York hometown. From 2001 until 2012 Geraldo reported from every hot spot on earth, including eleven assignments in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Rivera began his 51-year career as a television reporter at WABC-TV in New York where he presented the historic series exposing the deplorable conditions at the Willowbrook State School for People with Developmental Disabilities for the population then described as mentally challenged.
These powerful reports are credited with ending America’s policy of institutionalizing the developmentally disabled, leading to government investigations, institutions across the nation being eventually shut down and the civilized world adopting small, community-based housing as the alternative. The subsequent sea change in the treatment of the mentally disabled is considered by Geraldo to be his most important life’s work.
The winner of the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy journalism award for his NBC News documentary on “Women in Prison,” his third, and the Scripps Howard Foundation national journalism award for “Back to Bedlam,” Rivera has received several hundred awards for journalism, and community service including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, three national and seven local Emmys, two Columbia-DuPont and two additional Scripps Howard Journalism Awards.
Prior to joining Fox News, Rivera, an attorney, covered the globe for ABC News; hosted a widely viewed series of syndicated specials, including the highest rated in history, “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault.” His eponymous talk show ran for eleven successful seasons. He later hosted CNBC’s number-one rated show, “Rivera Live,” where his critically acclaimed coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial verdicts and the Clinton Impeachment set all-time CNBC ratings records.
Follow Geraldo @GeraldoRivera
Geraldo for Fox News www.foxnews.com/person/r/geraldo-rivera.html
About Victoria Schneps-Yunis: Victoria Schneps-Yunis is the Founder, President, and Co-publisher of the Award-winning Schneps Media, a group of 88 community media outlets, which began in her living room in 1985 with The Queens Courier. She previously founded Life’s WORC in 1971.
Victoria’s career as a teacher took a sharp turn with the birth of her first child, Lara, who had turned blue in the nursery and suffered severe brain damage as a result. After finding out the diagnosis that Lara would be developmentally a three-month-old her whole life, Victoria and her husband Murray looked for help.
In 1970, they found an Infant Rehabilitation Center that could assist her with physical and occupational therapy. It was on the campus of Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, NY.
Victoria, with a group of wonderful caring women, having healthy children, founded Life’s WORC, originally the Women’s Organization for Retarded Children.
They raised thousands of dollars and organized busloads of volunteers to donate their time to Willowbrook. But within a year state budget cuts at the school immediately resulted in drastic service and staffing cuts so severe, that some people died.
Victoria with her WORC members marched and picketed at Willowbrook, fighting for the rights of her daughter Lara and the 5,400 other residents of the Willowbrook.
No one heard their message until Geraldo Rivera’s passionate reporting filmed the horrendous conditions at the school.
At the same time, she and her husband with other parents filed a Federal Class Action lawsuit. It was ultimately won and Willowbrook was closed, being replaced by group homes with day programs in the communities.
Life’s WORC opened the first group home for children coming out of Willowbrook in Little Neck Queens. They named it in honor of Geraldo Rivera.
Living through the “Willowbrook Wars,” Victoria had a lasting impression of the power of the press. She saw how it helped with the focus on the needs of people with developmental disabilities and autism, and ultimately brought about permanent change. She aspired to work in the news business one day.
Victoria, a young mother of four children, was looking for a career that would allow her to work while still being available to her children.
With partner John Toscano, a knowledgeable newsman recently retired from the Daily News, they launched The Queens Courier. Victoria and John took all the pictures, wrote all the news, and even sold all the ads. She bought John out after a few years.
Today, The Queens Courier is part of the largest community media company, Schneps Media, which includes newspapers, magazines, websites, a digital division, an events division, and a broadcasting division.
They serve New York City, Long Island, the Hamptons, Westchester, Rockland County, Philadelphia, and Palm Beach County Florida.
The company currently has 88 media outlets and continues to grow with her son Josh Schneps as her partner and CEO.
She is the proud mother of three living children, Joshua Schneps, Elizabeth Aloni, and Samantha Sohmer who have given her six grandchildren. She also has four stepchildren and nine step grandchildren from her marriage to the late Dr. Stuart Yunis.
Victoria graduated from NYU with a B.S. in education, and Brooklyn College with an M.A. in education. She serves on multiple boards including Flushing Bank and the United Way of Long Island.
About Life’s WORC: In 1971, Victoria Schneps-Yunis founded Life’s WORC, originally the Women’s Organization For Retarded Children, with women in her Bayside neighborhood. They volunteered and helped raise money for the people at the Willowbrook State School. Victoria’s activism was inspired by her daughter Lara who was brain damaged after her birth.
In 1972, after severe budget cuts by Governor Rockefeller, reporter Geraldo Rivera revealed the atrocious living conditions at the Staten Island-based Willowbrook State School, which was the country’s largest institution serving people with developmental disabilities and autism. The story helped gain national media attention, which led to the school’s ultimate closing, forced on the state by parents winning a Federal Class Action lawsuit.
Life’s WORC went on to purchase the first group home for children in New York State in Little Neck, Queens. The first residents were young people who previously lived at Willowbrook and some who came from their homes.
The organization has continued to grow in New York City, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.
Life’s WORC also runs Day Habilitation Programs, the Family Center For Autism (FCA), and the newly created Job Training Center for People with Special Needs.
Life’s WORC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.