March 22, 2018
In Celebration of World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 was World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD 2018). When I was 13, Armen, the son of my dad's first cousin, was welcomed into our extended family. He had Down syndrome, and at some family gatherings, I was assigned to watch him as the adults socialized. Although Armen's family moved to California and I saw them infrequently after high school, he had a lasting impact on my life.
In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day, I'd like to share two wonderful presentations. The first comes from The Arc of Massachusetts board member (and PwC tax partner) Scott Borchardt. He recently wrote a blog on inclusion through work and the experiences of his daughter Noelle, an engaging 21-year-old: 
Noelle, with The Arc's Charlie Fiske, at the 2017 Transition Conference
If you are not present in the community, are you really part of the community? Too often individuals with disabilities lack employment opportunities in their local communities. The benefits of working near home are obvious - reduced commuting times, familiar settings, and, most importantly, the opportunity to be seen. Being seen allows one to experience the benefits of the community and interact with neighbors, friends, teachers, and family. Noelle loves being seen! Seeing acquaintances at local stores, restaurants, and other community settings can be the highlight of her day.
Jon Derr in his video postcard for WDSD
After reading Scott's full blog, you should also check out  Jon Derr's video postcard in honor of WDSD 2018. Jon is the son of Northeast Arc CEO Jo Ann Simons and Chet Derr. The video postcard intersperses Jon's experiences with inspirational quotes. One of my favorites comes from Albert Einstein: "I'm thankful for all those who said NO to me. It's because of them I did it myself."  
Noelle and Jon, as well as their parents, serve as inspiring teachers to us all.

Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director  
Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day 
The annual Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day event at the State House, sponsored by Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, will take place on Thursday, April 12, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

Heather Hegedus, TV25's weekend anchor, and self-advocate Gyasi Burks-Abbott will serve as Emcees for the program, whose theme is "Planning for the Future is Now." State Senator Michael Moore will be recognized as Distinguished Legislator of the Year, State Senator Barbara L'Italien will receive AFAM's Autism Champion Award, and Lisa Borges, former Executive Director of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation, will be given a Lifetime Achievement Award. Self-advocate Conor Farrell, a student at Salem State University, will answer the question "Can I attend college?," and Bedford Chief of Police Robert Bongiorno will discuss police training for autism.

Following updates on budgetary and legislative issues by Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc of Massachusetts, attendees will have an opportunity to visit their own legislators to lobby for their priorities.
Positions Available: PATHWAYS to Friendship Facilitators
PATHWAYS to Friendship is a collaboration between the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), The Arc of Massachusetts, and DDS providers. To further social inclusion, Pathways assists agency staff to help their participants develop long term relationships - hopefully friendships - with other members of their communities who are not paid to be with them, not family members and not also receiving services. 

Presently hiring part-time (20 hours per week) team members for a one to two year period. Potential team members must have a good background in our field and experience mentoring or consulting to staff. Learn more about the position here.
Budget Updates Webinar
News from the Statehouse - Budget Updates and Next Steps
Monday, April 23, 2018 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Presented by Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director, The Arc of Massachusetts
Thanks to the Becker Center for Advocacy, this webinar is free! |  Register today!
Massachusetts Rehab Commission and Transition Webinar
How Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Works with
Transition Age Youth

Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Presented by Jennifer Stewart, Director of Transition,
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Thanks to a grant from Massachusetts Partnerships for Transition To Employment (MPTE), this webinar is free! | Register today!
WHAT'S TRENDING Whatstrending
The Arc Testifies at Ways and Means Hearing
Maura Sullivan and Ilyse Levine-Kanji at the State House hearing.
Several hundred witnesses presented testimony on the state's FY19 budget at the final State House Joint Ways and Means Committee hearing. The Arc's Director of Government Affairs, Maura Sullivan, told legislators that important DDS budget increases are needed. Her testimony included highlighting the importance of adequate funding for the DDS (Dept. of Development Services) line items 5948-0012 and the DESE (Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education) line item 7061-0012. 

Maura stressed the critical importance of these line items, explaining how they'd benefited her son Neil and as a result a much more expensive placement was delayed. Joining Maura at the witness table was AFAM's Ilyse Levine-Kanji, who also advocated for budget increases in the DDS budget line items.

As a follow up to the hearing, all 53 members of the Committee were sent personal emails that included Maura's written testimony and The Arc's 'Budget Ask 2019' sheet, showing needed increases for DDS line items and the number of persons affected by each DDS line item.
Gopen and Crocker Fellowship Applications Now Open
The Gopen Fellowship is for a person with a developmental disability, and the Crocker Fellowship is for a family member. Both Fellowships are 20 hour per week positions for one year, beginning in July. Applications are due the end of April. For more information, please consult the official MDDC announcement.
Toll Free "One Care" Call On March 27
Are you or your family member on "One Care" through MassHealth?

If so, you can call in at  1:00 PM on March 27 at 1-877-300-1240 . This call will offer you the opportunity  share your opinion on your program experience.

Those on One Care are individuals who have both Medicare and Medicaid and opted into the "One Care" program run by Commonwealth Care Alliance or Tufts Health Unify (not to be confused with the present MassHealth Insurance changes that began on March 1 for Medicaid only members). To learn more, please consult this flyer.
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The Arc of Massachusetts  | (781) 891-6270 |