A Message of Hope
April 10, 2020
Dear Chapter Staff and Volunteers,

It seems every day lately we are bombarded with new regulations and new challenges to respond to. Today, we want to set all those aside for a moment, and offer a message of hope and gratitude.

We are facing a global crisis like none of us have seen in our lifetimes. We each the burden of our own unique pressures, responsibilities and fears as we try to navigate these extraordinary circumstances. Yet, we also all each carry our own unique strengths, solutions and skills into this battle. Over the past few weeks, we have seen that strength and perseverance multiplied by the thousands across The Arc New York, unifying us into a resilient force that we have grown prouder than ever to lead.

Our membership committee, with the help of Livingston-Wyoming's Graphic Manager Amy Woodhouse, created the beautiful image below to illustrate the motto "stronger together." The logo exemplifies how each and every one of you play a role in realizing our mission. We invite you to use this image to celebrate the both people who make The Arc New York what it is, and our strength in unity.

We are proving every day that we are stronger together. In the face of this crisis, in thousands of homes across the state, dedicated direct support professionals are finding new ways to keep people connected, supported and thriving. In many Chapters, individuals are learning new skills, sewing cloth masks and assembling face shields. Each mask sewn keeps someone safe. Each mask sewn combats our sense of helplessness and empowers people we support to be part of the solution.

We have Chapters setting up temporary emergency recuperation sites, building places of healing for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to recover from COVID-19 in a safe and supported environment. Their staff are donning gowns, goggles, shields, masks, and gloves to deliver a critical level of care we never anticipated. We have Chapters offering to deploy staff from unaffected areas into the front lines of the most severely impacted regions - staff who are willing to put themselves at risk to provide relief and service where it is needed most.
Chapters are producing and hand sanitizer and COVID-19 test kits, allocating their resources and expertise to this fight. Convoys of delivery trucks have convened at the State Office and carried desperately needed personal protective equipment to every county in the state to keep our people safe.

Executive Directors are connecting day after day to collaborate on best practices and effective responses. Advocates are fighting for our staff, the people we support, and our system of services in regular conversations with state leadership. We are telling our stories in the media to bring the unique challenges of our field into the public dialogue. Chapters are sharing ideas to help individuals keep learning and growing. Families are being supported in connecting remotely. Staff are becoming surrogate family, providing emotional support, laughter and community. Parties and dances that could have been cancelled have been held simultaneously in dozens of living rooms. At one home, staff even affixed big cartoon grins to their N95 masks after residents told them they missed seeing their smiles.

Thousands of rainbows are springing up in windows, each proud artist sending a colorful message of hope into their community. Each rainbow a symbol of the magic that emerges from a storm.

For many, this week is a time of faith and tradition. For others, spring itself is a symbol of renewal. Today, our traditions may look different, and our communities may be strained, but as we reflect on our collective power to rise above this challenge, have faith. Together we are The Arc New York, and together we will emerge from this storm, more determined and connected than before.

With gratitude,

Mark van Voorst
Executive Director 
The Arc New York 

Jack Kowalczyk
The Arc New York

Mark van Voorst, Executive Director

This email was sent to:
  • President Jack Kowalczyk 
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Executive Directors 
  • Chief Operating Officers
  • Chief Financial Officers  
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • Trust Services and State Office Staff