Steven C. Tremblay, Full Obituary

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Alpha One Founder, Steven C. Tremblay, 62

CAPE ELIZABETH -- Steven C. Tremblay, 62, of Hillcrest Drive died Sunday, March 11, 2012 at Maine Medical Center.

Steven was born in Waterville, the son of Norman C. and Lorette Rose Giroux Tremblay. He attended local schools and graduated from Waterville High School in 1968. Steve was a scholar athlete and a champion hockey player on the legendary team that won the Class A State Title all four high school years. He was a starting forward for the 1968 New England Championship Hockey Team. Steve went on to further his education at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. While in college in 1971, Steven sustained a spinal cord injury with resulting quadriplegia. Following months of rehabilitation, he continued his education and earned an engineering degree in 1972 from WPI.

Steven began his professional life in 1975 when he was named the Maine State Coordinator for the New England Spinal Cord Injury Foundation. That year he was appointed to the Governor's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped. Through his experience and with the mentorship of Ron Hanson of the State Bureau of Rehabilitation, Steven learned about the many needs of Mainers with disabilities. In 1979 Steven founded Alpha One, Maine's first Center for Independent Living (CIL). Headquartered in South Portland, Alpha One grew to have regional offices in Presque Isle, Bangor and Augusta.
 

Steven had a firm belief that the key to living with a disability is having the self determination to live your own life and make your own decisions. His principles of self-direction, non- discrimination, independence and productivity were imbedded in all of the services that were developed at Alpha One. With Steven at the helm, Alpha One created many vital programs geared to assist people with disabilities to achieve their own independence, self determination and productivity in the community. Among Alpha One's 'firsts' were the Adaptive Driving Evaluation Program, home access/modifications, adapted recreation, peer support and resource coordination services, and the development of accessible housing.

In 1980, Steven was an influential member of a coalition of state policy makers and advocates that created Maine's Home Based Care Act which set the groundwork for forming one of the first in the country State funded consumer directed person assistant (PA) programs. By 1984, Steven and his staff began working at the federal level to access funds through one of the first Medicaid Waivers to support flexible funding to expanded consumer directed PA services to more Mainers.

Steven served as the Chairman of the Maine Independent Living Commission in 1985 which was charged by the state to study how to best provide services that encouraged independence and full inclusion for people with disabilities in Maine. As the Commission completed its work Steve took on another task. He collaborated with his esteemed colleagues-- Kim Wallace and Stan Provis to create, through a citizen's referendum, the first in the nation $5 million Adaptive Equipment Financing Loan Program. This program has since been modeled by more than 43 other programs across the country. Now known as the mPower Loan Program, it provides low interest financial loans to Mainers and business entities so they have the purchasing power needed to buy adaptive technology, equipment, and to make home or building modifications to promote independence, productivity and access.

 Steve also started a durable medical equipment company as a wholly owned subsidiary of Alpha One. Wheelchairs Unlimited had the goal of selling and servicing mobility equipment with retail locations in South Portland, Augusta and Lewiston.

Steve was one of the many people who contributed to the writing of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and was in the White House Rose Garden with President George H. W. Bush when the Act was signed into law. Steve had the vision to anticipate the impact of the ADA and hired the first Architect employed by a CIL in the nation to specialize in ADA access design, universal design and ADA regulations.

In the early 1990's, President Bush recognized Steve as a Daily Point of Light Honoree for his tireless work helping people with disabilities.
True to Steve's philosophy of self determination, Alpha One was awarded a large Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant that supported the 'Home to the Community' project. With this project funding, the Alpha One staff worked to assist more than 30 individuals with disabilities to plan for and move back into their community from nursing homes where they had been living.

Steven became well known and respected in Maine, across New England and nationally. He was an agitator and advocate, an entrepreneur, a visionary, an instigator, a leader and coalition builder, and was very passionate about his company and the consumers served across Maine. Through more than 30 years of Steve's leadership, vision and advocacy, thousands of Maine citizens with disabilities have lived independently in their own communities. Those individuals have employed hundreds of Mainers to work in the community based services industry.

In 1990, Alpha One was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations Milbank Award of Excellence. In 2000, Steve was honored for his professional accomplishments by his alma mater and received the WPI Washburn Alumni Award. That same year, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Maine Farmington. The degree was awarded for Steve's 'achievements and lifelong dedication to the betterment of the lives of others.'
Steve was an avid fan of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. His father was an ND alumnus and for many years they led family and friends to South Bend for ND football games. There are always many good stories and 'tales' that come from these adventures. Steve also loved to SCUBA dive, taking many dive trips to Bonaire and the Cayman Islands and would also dive locally off the Maine coast.

Steven was predeceased by his parents and his dear friend and brother-in-law Daniel Veilleux. He is survived by his beloved son Mario and daughter Maria; their mother Carol Tremblay of Cape Elizabeth; his beloved sister Rachel Veilleux of Waterville; nephew Anthony and his wife Kristen Veilleux of Clayton, N.C., nieces Danielle and her husband Stephen Taber of Ashaway, R.I. and Andrea and her husband Jason Kipp of Bowie, MD.; great nieces Allison, Grace and Lidia Taber and great nephews Zachary Veilleux and Jackson Taber.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial at 1:00 p.m., Friday, March 23, 2012 at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, 8 Two Lights Rd, Cape Elizabeth with Rev. Msgr. Paul F. Stefanko officiating. Burial will be private. Arrangements are under the direction of the Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland ME.

Online condolences may be expressed at www.ctcrawford.com . In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Steven's name to: Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at www.miamiproject.miami.edu

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