State of The Arc - Presented by Board President Helen Pietranczyk at the 2017 Annual Meeting
This has been an amazing year full of positive change for the Arc.
Working collaboratively, the Board and Staff finalized the Strategic Plan with the following Goals:
- Community Life: Individuals w/ IDD and their families will have access to a full community life, which allows access to every aspect of life readily available to the greater population, and are empowered to live as independently as possible with full inclusion in the community.
- Technology: The Arc promotes and facilitates the use of cutting edge technology that advances our values, improves access to our programs, reduces stress on organization and community resources and informs and empowers the IDD community by providing immediate access to resources, information, connections and support.
- Self-determination /Empowerment: Individuals with IDD are advocates empowered at every age to lead cultural change in our community so that it fully embraces and supports all people.
- Governance: The Arc ensures effective governance of the organization to allow fulfillment of its mission and pursuit of its vision
To fulfill the needs of the plan, the following staff changes were made:
- New position created, Communications & eContent Director, Genni Williams
- Currently in the hiring process for a new Development Director
- Eryn Hoerig was promoted to Development & Events Manager (she is responsible for the Annual Meeting & SPARC Awards everyone will be attending in a little bit)
- Added an additional, half-time Education and Family advocate, Sally Carruthers
- Added an Advocacy and Administrative Coordinator, Courtney Pollack
- All new positions fulfill the direction of the strategic plan.
Under our new Strategic Plan, advocacy continues to be the heart and soul of our work at The Arc.
The Arc employs five and a half advocates, and those knowledgeable and committed staff have been able to assist individuals and families with some of their most difficult challenges.
In the six months ending December 2016, The Arc’s advocates supported 472 people with disabilities and family members, covering the lifespan from birth through death. Half of these individuals required our most intensive level of ongoing support. At this complex level, our advocates assisted with an average of 25 concerns per person; which is more than 2.5 times the number of concerns brought up by everyone else they served.
But numbers only tell a small part of the story. Often these concerns can continue for months, and sometimes years. For a child with autism struggling with behaviors at school, this can mean working with the parents over time as the student moves from classroom to classroom to find the right combination of supports that will allow him or her to grow educationally. For many of the adults we serve, this can mean helping a young adult establish their independence, or helping an older adult and their family through end-of-life decisions.
In the big picture of advocacy, from the less complex level to the most intensive level of support, the top three concerns our advocates address are related to health, safety and behavior; self-advocacy for adults with disabilities; and helping parents of younger children build their advocacy skills.
At the same time, more than half of the people we support are having issues with the various systems designed to support people with disabilities. Whether it’s the many services that help adults live in the community, or Medicaid, or the schools, these numbers show us that even the best services available to people with disabilities are often falling short of what is truly needed. And when this happens, people turn to The Arc for the trusted guidance that will help them remove barriers and find solutions.
In addition to direct advocacy, The Arc has provided the following trainings, July – December 2016:
- 6 in person trainings, with 146 attendees
- 176 individuals attended web based training
- And, nearly 50 community partnerships, everything from the Jeffco Strategic Planning Council, to HCPF Creative Solutions Group, to Jefferson Council on Aging, and many, many more
Our Community Outreach program is breaking new ground. Manager, Valerie Smith, and Coordinator, David Eaton have attended many community events representing The Arc and individuals with IDD, including:
- Presented to two city governments on what it means to fully include people with disabilities in the community
- Created and presented a seminar entitled Overpower the R-word, which gave participants tools to use when someone uses that word to demean them
- Creating a new series of talks called LifeAbility. David will be one of the speakers at the first LifeAbility Talk on communication coming up this month and next. Channel 7’s Hanna Atkinson will be co-presenting.
The Arc also works with The Arc of CO and The Arc US, including serving on the following state or national groups:
- The Arc of CO Public Policy Committee
- The Arc of the US
- The Center for Future Planning Task Force and
- The Arc @ School Task Force
The Summit of Hope in October was very successful, with 414 guests and another amazing, inspirational program. Each Summit of Hope is an opportunity to change perceptions of people with I/DD in our community, 400+ people at a time. We do this by telling people’s stories through film, and live at the event. Personal accounts are the best way to give people a true understanding of the impact of The Arc on people’s lives and the value and respect that people with I/DD deserve to receive.
The Achievement Challenge in May, almost a year ago now, was our most successful to date, with more than 130 participants in neon orange shirts, running, walking or rolling through the 3.1-mile course. It is our very best opportunity to change the perceptions of people with I/DD for the thousands of people who attend the Colfax Marathon’s 5k – not through telling them about what people can do, but by showing them! If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to come along with us on this incredible journey, go to our website to get more information and to sign up for this year’s Achievement Challenge on May 20.
Connor Long, our local Channel 7 news reporter who along with Hannah Atkinson was the reason Denver Channel 7 received a SPARC award last year, was named Self Advocate of the Year by The Arc of The United States, and continues to speak around the country, including as the keynote speaker at The Arc of Colorado Legislative luncheon last month.
I hope that this information gives you a glimpse into the accomplishments of The Arc this past year, and the important work that we do with and for individuals with I/DD and their families.