How do we make sure everyone feels safe?

  • We have group rules.
  • We follow them each time we go to the Rights Group.
  • We have these rules to make each person feel comfortable. Like if a person has trouble with food we have a rule about that.
  • Here are our rules:

The Rights Group Guidelines

  1. One person at a time will talk
  2. No side talking
  3. No interrupting each other
  4. Do your best to be on time at 6:45pm. Respect the Rights Group meetings. Come in quietly. If you can say sorry for being late.
  5. Respect other people’s rights
  6. What happens in the group stays in the group
  7. Don’t make it personal
  8. Stay focused on topics that are being discussed
  9. Help other people to follow the guidelines!
  10. No food or drink will be brought in to the meeting. There will be cookies and one can of diet pop. This is to help people who worry about food be a part of the meeting.
  11. Please do not use your cell phone unless it is an emergency. Please turn it on silent

What does help for the group look like?

  • We have 2 helpers in each meeting.
  • Help to set up our meetings
  • Help to support the elected positions
  • Helpers help the rights group members in the meetings when they need help

How do members help run the group?

  • We have elections every 2 years. Here are our elected members and what their jobs are:


Sean Simone

  • This person sets up the Agenda and runs the meetings.
  • This person will need to come at 6pm to work on the agenda with the helpers.
  • This person makes sure everyone understands what is being said at the meeting and what is being voted on.
  • This person makes sure that all opinions are heard and that everyone is treated fairly.
  • They call for votes on issues discussed at the meetings and give the members the voting results.

Vice President

Amelia Sarra

  • This person will need to come at 6pm to help the President with the agenda.
  • This person assists the President with setting up the agenda for each Right’s Group meeting.
  • Will take the place of the President if they can not attend a meeting.


Matt Caratozzolo

  • This person manages all money for the group.
  • They will meet with staff before each group to review finances.
  • They will keep all receipts.
  • They will give regular reports to the group about what has been spent, how much money we have and what we need.

Learning You Representative

Andrew Lewis

  • This person will sit on the Learning You Committee. They will attend all meetings.
  • They will report information back to the group in writing about the committee meetings at the next Right’s Group meeting.

Office Manager

Carol Gismondi

  • This person will come at 6pm to check emails and voice mail.
  • This person will manage the email account and voice mail.
  • This person is responsible for organizing the paperwork in the office.

Board of Directors Representative

Maria Katsiampas

  • This person will attend the Vita Board of Directors Meetings
  • They will provide updates from the Rights Group to the Board of Directors
  • They will provide the Rights Group with an update from the board meetings

Rights Group secretary

Andrew Kestenbaum

  • Calls group members to remind everyone about upcoming rights group meetings.
  • Calls group member to inform them of any cancelled meetings.
  • Calls group members to inform and remind group members of special events like car washes, fundraisers, projects related to the Rights Group.

How is the Rights Group involved with Vita’s Board of Directors?

  • We have a member on the Board of Directors at Vita.

What does Maria have to say about being on the board?

  • “I attend meetings every 4 months and I give an update on the Rights Group and what we are working on”
  • “I like it and it is a lot of fun. You get to meet people”
  • “I listen to what the board members have to say and new stuff. I report it back to the Rights Group”

What else have we worked on?

We wrote a letter for staff in 2006 about not being called clients but members instead. By sending this letter we started to change Vita. No one uses the word client anymore. Members started helping Vita more like we are part of new staff orientations, we help interview staff, we give our opinions to the head office about how things should run. The letter was the first step to get more involved with Vita. Here is the letter:



We are writing this letter to you stating that we think that the word client shouldn't be used anymore. Most of us feel that our self esteem is low. Some of us feel rejected when people call us clients. We are people like everybody else. We are not your business associates.
That's why we shouldn't be called clients!
We would like to be called MEMBERS because we want to feel like we are a part of something important in today's society.
We need to see this change on all documents and in the general language of the agency.
We understand that it will take some time for this process. We will be patient but we expect it to happen.
Manuela Dalla-Nora and the Board fully support this decision.
Thank you very much. We appreciate you making these changes.