What Would Life Be Like Without The Arc?
The 13th Annual Summit of Hope Community Awareness Event was held on October 1 at the Arvada Center for The Arts. Throughout the program, we explored this question: What would life be like without The Arc?
Three courageous families shared what their lives were like before connecting with The Arc and how their lives have changed since becoming a part of our community.
Joined by long-time supporters of The Arc and those who were just learning about our work for the first time, the families and their stories inspired the audience into action.
Patricia Fulton, an Arc Advocate and our Summit of Hope Emcee, opened the summit by welcoming the crowd and reminding everyone how important The Arc’s work is to families not only in Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties, but around The Nation. To highlight The Arc Movement, many long-standing Arc Advocates and Self-Advocates came together to produce a video highlighting the history of The Arc Movement. There will always be a need for The Arc, and we can never forget the dedication and determination of those who have been involved for decades.
The Arc’s Promise
Executive Director Lori Ropa shared a compelling, but difficult story with the audience. A vulnerable young person served by The Arc was abducted, taken across state lines, and ultimately returned home safely thanks to the pivotal role that the organization played in bringing community partners together.
As this case is still active, we have chosen not to publish further details at this time. However, it’s essential to know that The Arc:
- Engaged local police, and ultimately, police agencies across multiple states
- Engaged the FBI in pursuit of the abductor and victim
- Engaged Adult Protective Services, other chapters of The Arc, and Victim Advocacy Services
- Served as a central communication point for all parties, ensuring everyone was working together
- Supported the victim’s family throughout the ordeal
- Brought the victim and their family together once the perpetrator was apprehended, and then brought them all home safely.
The journey continues as The Arc is helping to coordinate emergency developmental disability services and appropriate supports for this young person and their family.
The Vigil-Long Story
Tonya Vigil has a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and an Intellectual Disability that had gone undiagnosed her whole life, which led to her and her family experiencing homelessness. When receiving supports for her TBI from another organization, she connected with The Arc. Arc Advocates supported Tonya in finding safe housing, proper medical care, counseling, and other services that could fully support Tonya’s needs. Because of Tonya’s perseverance and support from The Arc, she and her family have a safe home and goals for their future.
The Kokotovic Story
The Kokotovic family shared their personal journey from the joyful time of having their first child, Suza, to noticing delays in her development. Soon, they were struggling to find the right supports for Suza at home and at school. The Kokotovic family was shuffling through pages and pages of complex paperwork from educators and doctors all while adjusting to their new life circumstances. Connecting with The Arc helped the Kokotovic family understand what was happening with their daughter’s diagnoses and what this would mean for their family. The Arc advocates supported the Kokotovic’s in finding a school that is a great fit for Suza. After overcoming the initial challenges that came along with Suza diagnoses, the Kokotovics know that The Arc will be there to support Suza and her family for a lifetime.
To close the event, Marijo Rymer, a former Director of The Arc of Colorado, took the stage to rally Summit of Hope attendees to support The Arc’s mission through giving and remind us all that The Arc’s work is vital to our community. Through advocating for people with I/DD, The Arc helps individuals shape their own lives and receive the supports they need in order to thrive.