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Publisher's Summary

Abandoned by his unwed mother during World War II, Donald Vitkus becomes a ward of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is 27 days old. Six years later, as "patient number 3394", he is committed to Belchertown State School, where he is labeled a "moron" with an IQ of 41.

Like hundreds of other institutions across the country, Belchertown is a dehumanizing environment of barred windows, locked doors, and brutal regimentation. "I never want us to return to those days," Donald says. 

Growing up in the institution affects Donald's entire adult life - his army service in Vietnam, his marriage and raising children, and his earning a living. Donald's life comes full circle when he earns a degree in human services and becomes a caregiver for individuals like those he grew up with.

©2016 Ed Orzechowski (P)2020 Ed Orzechowski

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I Remember Belchertown State School

I grew up in South Hadley, Ma hearing stories about this school, but could never imagined how horrific it was for the residents! Donald’s story is so sad and moving. He was a hero to keep pushing through life, with all the obstacles placed in his path! An amazing advocate for the mentally disabled!

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A great true story by a truly great reader

The true story is amazing. The author is a fantastic reader. Feels like you're there.