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February 22, 2018
LEO'S LETTER leo
Celebrating Andrew Lawson

Can a time of mourning also serve as a time of celebration?

Andrew Lawson passed away before his 28th birthday. He was born with Down syndrome, but he was defined by what he achieved and who he was, not by a disability. That was reflected in the many ways he was included in the Norwell community.

I got to know him over the years. I appreciated Andrew's warm, engaging personality as he played basketball and volunteered at Play on the Parquet with his dad, Jim. He lived in the South Shore where I had spent a good portion of my life and career.

What I didn't know about Andrew was the impact he had within his community. Hundreds of people attended his wake on Valentines' day evening. There were scores of young people, as Andrew was the assistant coach at the high school. In the age of Twitter and Instagram, they waited in line for up two hours. The young people included those who were in Andrew's high school class and some who had played on the basketball team with him, as he had been included there too. A young man ahead of us in line had played with him in 2008, and said, "he touched so many lives."
 
The social inclusion reflected at the wake and funeral was something to behold. It started with a young man, his family and their commitment, but it didn't stop there. It included the day care that accepted him, the teachers who understood that he would learn, the coaches who embraced his ability, the students who became his friends, and so many others.
 
The loss is still there, and the sadness with it, but Andrew's life is one to be celebrated.
 
Sincerely,
Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director  
FEATURED Featured
Expect Success: Celebrating Achievers - Bruce's Story 
We are recognizing six achievers at our Expect Success: Celebrating Achievers gala on April 25. Our achievers are people with disabilities who have excelled in the arts, classroom, business world, and beyond. You can follow along with these stories right here.

Reliable. Dependable. Team worker. These are just some of the characteristics used to describe Bruce Butler by his supervisor at Bruce's person-centered planning meeting this year. These are the kinds of high praise that anyone would be thrilled to hear from their supervisor, but for the Butler family, they mean so much more. Bruce, a 67-year-old legally blind man with autism and an intellectual disability, has been working consistently and independently for the past 50 years.  Continue reading Bruce's story.
MassHealth Kicks Off New Insurance Plans on March 1
1.2 million people will be affected as MassHealth initiates the shift to four insurance plans - accountable care and managed care programs. If you are under age 65 and h ave NO other insurance (no private or Medicare); live in the community; and have MassHealth Standard, CommonHealth, CarePlus, or Family Assistance, then you will be affected by this shift.
 
You would have received mail from MassHealth with green stickers on the envelope and the letters would identify you in one of five groups. Each is explained. It's very important to take this seriously and make sure that your insurance assignment is what you want. The Arc has provided more resources on this important MassHealth transition here. You can also visit MassHealth's information page directly for further information. You will have until May 31, 2018 to make a change, but don't wait since your medical and drug benefits may be tied to a specific managed care organization.
WEBINARS & WORKSHOPS Workshops
Advanced Legislative Advocacy Training
Monday, February 26, 2018 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Presented by Maura Sullivan and Julie Heffernan

We will focus on: building and strengthening relationships with your elected officials; c ritical strategic planning and the budget; t elling your story; m easuring your effectiveness and success; i dentifying and understanding obstacles.
 
Presented by The Arc of Massachusetts: Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs and Program Director of Operation House Call and Julie Heffernan, Advocacy Alliance Coordinator. Register for this FREE webinar today!
WHAT'S TRENDING Whatstrending
Support Operation House Call - Contact Your Legislators!


Operation House Call's legislation H1954/S1222 has passed favorably the Joint Committee on Public Health and now we need the bill to move through the Healthcare Finance Committee. We just have a few weeks to make it happen. Please call or write your legislators, telling them why they should support this bill that would maintain and expand OHC across the state. For more information, email Maura Sullivan at Sullivan@arcmass.org.
The Arc of Massachusetts Action Center: Act Now!
The Arc of Massachusetts has three new forms for directly contacting your legislators . You may use the letters that we have provided, but feel free to tailor the messages as needed for your stories. Please also be sure to include a few sentences discussing your own personal stories.

To advocate on behalf of Nicky's Law  (S2213/H4026), which would establish a registry for any direct care workers substantiated of abuse,  use this form.

To advocate on behalf of  increased DDS funding for families and people with I/DD,   use this form.

To advocate on behalf of  Supporting Families and increased Family Support through DDS,  use this form.
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT sponsorspotlight
The Arc of Massachusetts  | (781) 891-6270 |  thearcofmass.org