image of Larry Biondi, left, with Connie Brown of the Brown Cow in Forest Park, and Progress Center Community Organizer Clark Craig
Larry Biondi, left, with Connie Brown of the Brown Cow in Forest Park, and Progress Center Community Organizer Clark Craig

Progress Center mourns Larry Biondi

Progress Center is devastated by the loss of Larry Biondi.  Larry died on the afternoon of June 28.  The organization’s longest serving employee, Larry worked at Progress Center for 28 years. As the Advocacy Manager, Larry led the Progress Center Community Organizers, and he organized and implemented strategies to improve housing, transportation, public access and health care for the disability community.  Larry also was well known for Progress Center’s Legislative Training Course.  Larry and his team offered the course twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall.  The course met once a week over the course of ten weeks, culminating in a trip to Springfield, where students from the course met with Illinois State Politicians and their staff, and applied the skills they learned during the training.

A person with a disability, Larry hired and managed his own personal assistants.  The personal assistants provided support with essential tasks like getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, cleaning, cooking and eating.  At work, Progress Center personal assistants supported Larry so that he Larry could focus on his job.  Perhaps as much as anyone else, Larry knew the essential link between accommodations and independence and inclusion for people with disabilities.  Without personal assistants, Larry would not have been able to live on his own. Understanding that link, Larry never stopped fighting to strengthen and build systems of community services so that all people with disabilities had the opportunity to access services and live independently.   In addition to his nine to five job at Progress Center, Larry put in just as many hours with Chicago ADAPT, a grass roots disability advocacy organization, and with National ADAPT.  Larry went to hundreds of local and national ADAPT demonstrations, participating in civil disobedience when local, regional, and national entities failed to recognize the needs and rights of people with disabilities.

Larry rarely turned down an opportunity to speak to a group of students, join a coalition, or attend a meeting, so long as he had a chance to raise awareness about disability, learn more about issues, and empower other people with disabilities.

At the front end of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Larry actively engaged in two new coalitions, and remained committed to the coalitions throughout the pandemic. As a member of the PPE for People with Disabilities Coalition, Larry joined the effort to ensure that people with disabilities in Chicagoland and their personal assistants had access to personal protective equipment.  With the Institutional Rescue and Recovery Coalition, Larry advocated for residents of long-term facilities, who suffered an alarming mortality rate during the Covid-19 crisis.

Larry will be missed sorely by his family, by his friends, by his peers, by his co-workers, and by thousands of people in the disability community, who, whether they know it or not, were touched by Larry’s work and commitment to disability inclusion.

As details become available, we will share information about funeral services.