A Waterbury-LaSalle resident who advocated for better services for the developmentally disabled will have his work immortalized with a street co-named in his honor.
NYC Council recently approved the naming of a portion of Harrington Avenue at Mayflower Avenue as Alfonse Agovino Sr. Way, commemorating the life of a trailblazing disability advocate who was a long-time volunteer board member at the AHRC.
Councilman James Vacca, who initiated the honor, said that Agovino was defending the rights of the developmentally disabled community at a time when many people did not fully understand the condition.
“He was advocating for residents with developmentally disabled people way before it was popular,” said Vacca, adding that he got to know Agovino, who he described as a soft-spoken man, when the councilman was Community Board 10 district manager in the 1980s.
“Back then, there was desperate need for education,” he said.
Agovino’s activism stemmed from his daughter, Elena, who was born in 1957 with cerebral palsy and autism, said his daughter Toni Agovino.
At the time, she explained, there were few resources for parents.
Al began volunteering with AHRC, an organization that sought to keep children and adults in classroom and workshop settings, in 1963.
Toni Agovino began the street co-naming process in her father’s honor after he passed away in January 2015 after learning more about all the people he helped during his life, she said.
He served as an AHRC board member for 25 years, from 1977 to 2002, and at host of organizations supporting the developmentally disabled, she added.
“Seeing all of his awards in the house, I wanted to have his name live in perpetuity because he advocated for people who cannot help themselves: people like my sister,” said Toni Agovino, adding that the family’s experience with Elena taught them unconditional love and was a blessing.
Her father served as AHRC board president from 1999 to 2001, and Toni Agovino continues to volunteer as a board member at AHRC today, she said.
When the fight for services first began, it was a movement, she said.
“He spoke his mind, fought when he believed in something and he loved unconditionally,” said Toni of her father.
In addition to AHRC, he served on the New York State Advisory Council on Quality Care for the Developmentally Disabled, Bronx Developmental Disabilities Service Office Parent Association, Board of Visitors Metro NY, and he received numerous awards.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was proud of that service, Agovino’s daughter said.
He was president of the Holy Name Society at St. Benedict’s Church, where he ran blood drives. He was the father of six children.
The street sign unveiling is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 29, 2017.