STATE OF THE ARC
Presented by Board President Caryn Quinkert at the 2022 Annual Membership Meeting, held online on June 22, 2022
Thank you all for attending our 2022 Annual Membership Meeting. This is my first State of The Arc address. It’s been exciting to look back over the past year and review all we’ve accomplished together. I am grateful to the Board, Lori, and the Staff for all the hard and creative work that was completed this year, and to you, for your incredible support.
Now, let’s take a little time for reflections on re-emergence, reconnection, and results.
It was nice to start getting back to business as usual! We were finally able to meet in-person without masks and see everyone’s face for the first time in more than two years. Our first in-person event was the Ice Cream Social in August 2021. Everyone - self-advocates, families, staff, and board members - could finally engage with The Arc in a fun and social setting. I enjoyed seeing everyone again.
During the pandemic we had to be creative and adaptive, and that continued into this year. Our Summit of Hope event was affected by the continued concerns about large gatherings. The event primarily remained virtual however, this year we started to re-connect by encouraging our Board and loyal Summit of Hope supporters to host private watch-parties. These watch-parties brought us together as smaller groups, which let us communicate our dedication and passion for the mission of The Arc in a more intimate setting. This was a creative new idea and it let us get the word out in a comfortable and effective way.
Another innovation we brought to Summit of Hope was our Summit Soiree. This event brought about forty donors, sponsors and board members together to introduce them to the 2021 Summit of Hope video and watch party concept. The food was generously donated by 240 Union restaurant, and it was a remarkable success.
FirstBank, The Arc’s Transformative Partner for a second time this past year, agreed to host their own, first-ever Summit of Hope watch party for FirstBank employees. This was exciting because it brought the work of The Arc to a wider range of people. Currently FirstBank is working with The Arc to explore how they can create meaningful employment opportunities for people with IDD. This is a big achievement and demonstrates how, by working in partnership with organizations with aligned values, we can create results that enrich the lives of people in our community. Thanks to our members and the community, all Summit of Hope activities and our year-end fundraising appeal were a success last year.
Self-advocates have experienced amazing reconnections during the past year and many of them are using their skills to promote positive change.
Coming out of the pandemic, self-advocates increased their activities within and outside our chapter. For example, in November, three self-advocates from our chapter were elected as President, Vice-President and Recording Secretary of Speaking for Ourselves, a statewide grassroots organization of people with disabilities who want to speak out and make change in the community on issues that affect them and so many others. Advocates on our staff support these statewide officers as they fulfill the wide range of duties involved in these roles, including managing grant funding.
Molly Kirkham, President of Speaking for Ourselves Colorado and Jilda Falco – a staff advisor to the group - represented SFO and The Arc at the Disability Policy Seminar held in Washington D.C. this past March.
They attended seminar sessions highlighting ways that advocates can engage with their members of Congress to express opinions about issues at the local, state, or federal level. Advancing employment opportunities, education priorities for students with disabilities, and why voting matters were just some of the topics covered.
Among the most memorable highlights of the trip, according to Molly and Jilda, was participating in a Disability Rights’ rally at the U.S. Capitol. Disability rights advocates gathered to send an important message to Congress: people with disabilities have the right to live in the community, work, and have relationships – and they vote.
Disability rights are human rights. Our chapter is honored to successfully support self-advocates as we create positive change together.
Self-advocates also attended the Legislative BBQ to meet with public officials.
The Outreach team was busy over the past year, as well.
They educated 34 Crisis Intervention team members from Jefferson County on how to interact with people with IDD who are victims or potential perpetrators.
Held 12 Coffee House gatherings to provide opportunities for social interaction, and 1 Karaoke Night online. Coffee House resumed meeting in person at Panera Bread this past April.
Hosted 12 People First meetings to support and build self-advocacy skills.
The team participated in the Jefferson County Leadership Human Service Day Resource Fair.
Partnered with The Arc Arapahoe Douglas to present to Littleton City Council suggestions on how to become even more inclusive.
And they collaborated with The Arc—Arapahoe and Douglas Counties on two Employment Mixers for self-advocates and employers.
Our Advocacy team continues to help fulfill the needs of people with IDD and their families.
Since the start of our current fiscal year on July 1, 2021, through the beginning of June 2022, we’ve addressed over 500 requests for advocacy from roughly 640 people with IDD. Adding in requests received from friends, family members and other caregivers increases this number even further. And, more than half of the requests received required our highest level of support and have involved multiple interactions.
In addition, thanks to funding received from Next Fifty Initiative, we began a pilot for an “Aging and Future Planning Program.” Jeanne Weis is leading this initiative to help families plan ahead in order prevent crises.
Our web-based trainings continue to serve our community. Trainings on Understanding IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) - Life After High School which was developed to address needs as children leave the school system and seek adult system supports - and How to apply for SSI - were accessed online by thousands of people in our local area and beyond.
In addition, LifeAbility Talks – talks that are designed and led by self-advocates for their peers – will be returning soon, so stay tuned!
And last but not least, Lori Ropa: Executive Director. Lori’s communication, authenticity, and purposeful leadership are outstanding. She was instrumental is keeping the organization moving forward during the pandemic and her thoughtful, forward-thinking leadership continued this year.
Every organization should be so lucky to have such a wonderful team. Thank you all for your dedication, collaboration, expertise, and commitment.
The Board was busy last year, as well.
The Resource Development Committee enthusiastically led other Board members in hosting their own watch-parties for the Summit of Hope.
The Finance Committee took a fresh look at employee compensation and has created an employment policy that strives to make our chapter a leader among non-profits in their compensation package for employees.
The Beacon Taskforce continued to investigate the duty of foresight and how we should implement it within our Chapter. The Governance Committee and Executive Committee continued their leadership roles. The Guardianship Committee continued their commitment to the individuals for whom we are legal guardians.
Among other highlights of the past year for me was our Strategic Planning Retreat. We started the retreat off with a staff and Board mixer at Brewability Labs in Littleton. The mixer gave board members and staff the opportunity to get to know each other better in a more relaxed environment. During the two-day retreat, the board and staff were able to work together discussing issues that were pertinent to The Arc and determining the focus of the next three years. The best part of the retreat was the relationships that were built between the Board and the Staff.
We have three outgoing Board Members: Miranda Connor, Past Governance Committee Chair, Alli Moffett Folks, and Mary Monnet. I want to thank you for the insight you gave us and your leadership. It was a pleasure working with all of you. You will be missed!
I also want to thank Helen Pietranczyk, our Board’s Immediate Past Chair, for her continued support and willingness to do whatever needed to be done for us to complete our work. I can’t count the number of times she was there to help when we really needed it.
Thank you all for fulfilling the values and the mission of our organization!
As far as future plans for our chapter: We are excited to start the implementation of our Strategic Plan. The Board and Staff have worked hard to create the strategic major goals; these are the three big ideas that will focus our work in the next three years:
- People with IDD and their families are at the center of everything we do.
- The Arc is the destination for participation for our community.
- Understand and anticipate the needs of people with IDD and their families and prepare them to successfully navigate life transitions across the age spectrum.
In alignment with those goals, I’m proud to announce that The Arc is making a very real commitment to peer advocacy. Beginning July 1, Brent Belisle, our current Community Outreach Coordinator, will be our chapter’s first Peer Advocate. His new responsibilities will include being engaged in supporting people who are receiving advocacy at The Arc and providing the unique perspective that only someone with lived experience can share. We are expecting to hire another Peer Advocate later in the year.
I hope you all are incredibly proud – as I am - of the work we do.
You are all appreciated – each and every one of you.
Links in this post:
Board Members: https://www.arcjc.org/whoweare/people.html