The nonprofit organization I manage helps create opportunities for a good life for people with developmental disabilities. We helped transition people out of state-run institutions and into communities, providing the support they need to grow and lead a full life. We continue that work today and the personal growth we witness in those we support is amazing!

As with most things, the best way to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself is to tell the stories that keep the memories alive. This compelling video does just that.

This beautiful song from artist Dana Mase tells the true story of Arline, a woman who spent her life in an institution in New York. Here’s the music video, and the lyrics are below:

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Artist: Dana Mase

“She Never Knew (She Never Knew)” is based on the real life story of a woman who, as a young girl in the 1930’s, was wrongfully sent to a state institution for the feeble minded by her mother. Shot just outside of New York City in the now abandoned facility where she once lived, the video addresses the issue of institutional retardation; a practice where in the not too distant past, people who would by today’s standards be mainstreamed into society, were warehoused in places for the “insane” and “mentally defective.”

Lyrics:

She never knew about the tooth fairy
Or being tucked into bed by her daddy
She never knew about staying up all night long
Talking to a girlfriend

She never knew about first kisses
Or throwing pennies into wells and making wishes
She never knew that she never knew she never knew

Do you blame the mother that chose neglect or
Do you blame the teacher that decided to reject her
Do you blame the angel that failed to protect Arline

Oh Arline, Oh Arline

She never knew about Sunday mornings
Waking-up late in the arms of her husband
She never knew what it’s like to dry a tear
From the son, she never knew

She never knew what it’s like to help her
Daughter get dressed on the day of her wedding
She never knew what it’s like to hold a newborn grandchild.

Do you blame the mother that chose neglect or
Do you blame the teacher that decided to reject her
Do you blame the angel that failed to protect Arline

She was sent to live in the middle of nowhere
Where all the misfits go that don’t fit in anywhere
Who pays the time for the crime against an innocent child
I’m afraid it’s Arline

Oh Arline

Bridge:
Send them away
Pretend everything’s ok…
What’s been taken away
Can never be replaced

She was a little girl with dreams and smiles
Walked with a limp when she was only five
Her mother couldn’t handle the shame
She packed Arline sent her away
I met Arline at her group home
She’s 78 now and she lives all alone
She knits clothes for her dolls
Who are, her family.

Too late to blame the mother that chose neglect
Too late to blame the teacher that decided to reject her
Too late to blame the angel that failed to protect Arline

She was sent to live in the middle of nowhere
Where all the misfits go that don’t fit in anywhere
Who pays the time for the crime against an innocent child
I’m afraid it’s Arline

Oh Arline, Oh Arline.

 

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