By Crys McCuin, Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess
What a remarkable year it’s been for The Arc of Dutchess and people with developmental disabilities.
From the start, 2016 has brought new and wonderful things. In January our Poughkeepsie-based agency took on a new name and affiliation, going from Dutchess ARC to The Arc of Dutchess. Now the agency is an affiliate of The Arc, the nation’s leading advocate for the 4.6 million Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our new status has both magnified our position as the Dutchess County Chapter of NYSARC and given The Arc of Dutchess a nationwide association, which has expanded our reach and influence.
Our new name and position also brought about a renewed commitment within our agency to serve people with developmental disabilities and our communities in the best possible ways.
For one, we’re stepping up our advocacy efforts relative to trends in the field, including the influence of managed-care systems on agencies like ours and key financial issues. For another, we’ve reassessed The Arc of Dutchess’s values, including where the agency has been and where it’s going. We’ve clarified our mission’s language with a broader, more person- centered approach to better connect with people in a real way. We know who we are and where we’re directed, allowing us to clearly see how we’re positioned in the face of obstacles and the opportunities each situation brings.
The early part of 2016 brought another bonus: The Arc of Dutchess was recognized for the agency’s diversity with the Richard K. Wager Workplace Inclusiveness Award. Not only did the award acknowledge the agency’s efforts, but it also brought to light the individuals the agency supports. Often, an assumption is made that people with developmental disabilities are limited in a way that prohibits learning and growth. But capacity, no matter who we are, can be maximized. Those we support are active members of several organizational committees at The Arc of Dutchess, reviewing policies and practices. Key representatives were included in this year’s review of the agency’s mission, vision and values.
Yet another exciting happening this year was the occur- rence of the Special Olympics here on our home turf, the Mid- Hudson Valley. The event was especially thrilling for the number of people we serve who look forward to participating in the games year after year, but it also was a lot of fun for the agency staff, along with our 60-plus volunteers, to watch and cheer members of our team and others with developmental disabilities ice skate, play ice hockey and snowshoe their way through the games, all with impressive athleticism and finesse.
This month The Arc of Dutchess will hold its annual “Partners at Work Breakfast” at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. During the event, agency employees and board members, community members, elected representatives and advocates will focus on The Arc of Dutchess’s employment services, including opportunities to partner with each other and the community’s businesses.
More endeavors are on the way. The more we do, the better life is for people with developmental disabilities, their friends and families, our local communities and the nation as a whole. We can hardly wait.
The Arc of Dutchess in Poughkeepsie, NY, serves more than 900 people with disabilities and their families through clinical therapies and habilitation programs, along with many vital services. For more information, visit The Arc of Dutchess at http://dutchess-arc.org/index.php.