March 1, 2018
Family Acceptance

In the past few weeks, I've focused on inclusion by sharing Ryan's success story and the outpouring of community recognition and affection at the passing of Andrew Lawson ( l ocal paper).

But each story of inclusion has a beginning. I believe these stories begin in and with the family. Regardless of the initial response, families who are able to accept the disability of their child will have a much easier time of helping the child grow and thrive. According to Ann Turnbull and others, families who positively adapt to the birth are those "who roll up their sleeves and get on with the task of finding the best available services for their children: who both accept the reality of the disability and are able to love the child for who she or he is..."

In fact, elsewhere it's been said that "the presence of a child with a disability in a family can have many positive effects, and can even help to strengthen families." We know that all children need "responsive" parenting, which implies acceptance of the child and nurturing his/her growth. Parents' role modeling and guidance send a message to the child's siblings. The child may have a disability, but he or she grows up knowing acceptance and developing a healthy sense of who he or she is.

And then there are other special members within the community. The teacher who tells a mom that when the child was old enough, he would be welcome at their nursery school, as happened with Regina and Andrew Lawson. Or perhaps it's that special education teacher who becomes a great recreational consultant for community families.

The steps on the road to inclusion and achievement begin at home, with a parent. Sometimes the road begins with a surrogate due to difficult circumstances at home. But I've seen acceptance be demonstrated regardless of the disability, the medical condition, or the behavior. Parents should be recognized for the valued role they play by being provided the supports they need. It starts with family.
Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director  
Expect Success: Celebrating Achievers - Isaiah'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.

Just by speaking with 22-year-old  Isaiah Lombardo and his mother, Angela, you can immediately tell how well-rounded and responsible a young man he is. He once applied for a job on his own without telling his mother, and ended up working at Stop & Shop for four years. He takes part in advocacy in many areas, including annual disability awareness training for all 4th graders in the Brookline public school system and co-teaching as part of The Arc's Operation House Call program. This brief glance at Isaiah's resume shows how truly impressive a young man he is - and knowing that he has Down syndrome makes his achievements all the more impressive. Continue reading Isaiah's story.
Don't Miss Out: The 40th Annual Legislative Reception!
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | 10:30AM - 12:00PM
Great Hall, Massachusetts State House

Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to meet with your legislators to catch up on legislative priorities and other important issues.
 Persons with disabilities, family members, advocates, state agency heads, staff members, and more are  highly recommended to attend this exciting annual event!

Confirmed guests include Governor Charlie Baker, honorees Rep. Denise Garlick and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, State Senators and Representatives, State Cabinet Secretaries, and Commissioners. Renowned advocate Angela Ortiz will be speaking about the issues. The event will also be emceed by WROR's Lauren Beckham Falcone, a mother of a child with I/DD.

Registration has been extended through Monday, March 5 at 5:00pm. Due to the size of this event, registering online ahead of time is strongly encouraged. So don't wait - register today! We look forward to seeing you there!
Ask the Broker! Turning 18
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 1 2:00-1:00 PM
Kerry Mahoney, Director of Education, Outreach, and SUPPORTbrokers
The Arc of Massachusetts | Webinar fee: $25 | Register today!
Do you have questions about your child turning 18? What are the areas that you need to focus on and should be on your to do list? After a brief presentation, there will be time to ask questions about reaching this important age! 
Why the fee? We pay for attendees phone usage by the minute for webinars and these costs add up! Help keep expenses down by using your computer for the audio portion of the program! 
34th Annual MDSC Conference/Awards Luncheon
Saturday, March 24, 2018 | 8:00AM - 4:15PM
WHAT'S TRENDING Whatstrending
Operation House Call Needs Your Support!
Th e Arc's Operation House Call legislation has passed favorably through the Joint Committee on Public Health and is now in the Health Care Finance Committee. To help this medical student and health professional training program become a law, please contact your legislator and ask them to support the bill by speaking to the Chairs of the Health Care Finance Committee. If your legislator is part of the Health Care Finance Committee - please reach out to them directly.

Stayed tuned for more advocacy news on our pending legislation, o r contact Maura Sullivan at
Advocacy Alliance Training in Fitchburg and Pittsfield
As part of our ongoing Advocacy Alliance with chapters of The Arc, The Arc of Opportunity in Fitchburg hosted the first in a series of advocacy training sessions on budget and legislative initiatives. 

The Arc of MA's Charlie Fiske outlined some of the steps in the legislature's annual budget preparation and the process of how bills are formulated and passed into law. The group consisted of families whose members are served by the local Arc and are interested in advocating with their Representatives and Senators about how better to care for their loved ones.
Participants were encouraged to recognize that they are the "experts" when advocating with legislators about various state budget line items and bills. 
Special recognition is offered to The Arc of Opportunity staff Allison Moscinski, Division Director of Day Hab and Family Supports; Madeline Merchant, Program Director of Family Supports; and Christopher Lounsbury, Recreation and Family Supports Coordinator, who worked in setting up the training session.  Also on the same day, The Arc's Herb Cabral conducted a similar Advocacy Alliance session at The Berkshire County Arc in Pittsfield.
Vinfen's 11th Annual Moving Images Film Festival
Vinfen will hold its 11th annual Moving Images Film Festival, The Dignity of Risk, on Saturday, March 24 from 9:00 5:00 p.m. at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston. For over a decade, Moving Images has used the power of film to raise awareness, educate the community, and fight the prejudice and discrimination often faced by people with psychiatric conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and behavioral health challenges.Through six inspirational films and two panel discussions, this year's event explores how the right to take risks, both big and small, is an essential element to self-advocacy, services, recovery, relationships, and the pursuit of one's dreams. CART Interpreter Services are provided for panel discussions. Lunch will be served and parking at the venue is complimentary. This event is free and open to the public, but a $10 donation is suggested and appreciated. Register now at
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.
Open Door Theater Presents
A Sensory-Friendly Performance
of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella"
Saturday, March 24, 2018 | 1:00 PM
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT sponsorspotlight
The Arc of Massachusetts  | (781) 891-6270 |