May 18, 2017

Last week Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services Elin Howe announced that she will retire in July. Disappointing news such as this is a good time for reflection. Comm. Howe closed four facilities and successfully resolved the Rolland Nursing Home Lawsuit to facilitate movement to community settings. One closure required an appeal in federal court due to a federal judge's ruling to stop. Against the backdrop of closure (including sheltered work), she reaffirmed that being in the community also meant being part of it. We can't forget that those who work, live, and volunteer in our system have been touched by the same societal biases that persons with disabilities face every  day. 
We need to reaffirm values of dignity, respect and inclusion daily in our community system of care and support. I want to recognize Comm. Howe's role in the passage of the the four laws of the acts of 2014 and the pending registry bill (Nicky's Law), which was initiated by stakeholders. Two of the laws brought access and self-direction. DDS now serves adults with developmental disabilities and autism (and other conditions) and Real Lives affirms that DDS constituents should have more control over their supports. I won't attempt to do full justice to her tenure in this small space. I will point out a key trait: her gracious and thoughtful manner. Separate from her decades of experience was a sense of purpose that should pervade all our work. The purpose and values trumped the "I." It's something I will continue to remind myself in the work ahead.   
Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director    
Launch of ABLE Act
On May 10, Governor Charlie Baker launched the Massachusetts ABLE Act savings program. The ABLE Act allows persons with disabilities to save money without losing benefits such as Medicaid (MassHealth in our state) and SSI. Here are some key points about the savings program:
  • Eligibility requires that the onset of disability occur prior to age 26
  • A maximum of $14,000 in tax-deductible contributions annually
  • There is a $100,000 cap in order to preserve SSI eligibility
  • There can only be one ABLE account for an individual
  • Money must be spent for qualified expenses
  • Medicaid payback kicks in for any remaining dollars in the ABLE account upon the death of the beneficiary
The program gives a person with disabilities the opportunity to build investments for the long term. Anyone can donate to the account. Until ABLE, individuals faced a $2,000 cap for resources, which meant any private funding would have to come through a special needs trust account. This requires legal assistance, which is a barrier for some people. ABLE does not eliminate the value of or need for a special needs trust for those who use them now.  You can save toward a car, equipment, housing expenses or other needs.
Qualified expenses include any expenses related to the eligible individual's disability, including: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses.
To begin saving, you can go to .

Home for the Future Campaign Challenge Update
Supporters of The Arc of Massachusetts like you know how very important it is for The Arc to continue advocating for the supports and services people with I/DD need and deserve. The Arc's new headquarters will play a key role in our ability to keep doing just that. By increasing our capacity, the building is helping The Arc of Massachusetts increase its effectiveness well into the future.
The Arc's chapters, human service agencies, and individuals have been stepping up to make sure that we meet the goal of raising $200,000 to meet a fundraising challenge that will provide an additional $100,000 for the building. Every gift we receive between now and the June 30 deadline will count toward the Home for the Future Capital Campaign challenge.
The deadline is nearing, but you still have time to make a difference. Give today and make sure we meet the challenge. Please visit to learn more or contact Katrin Aback at or 781-891-6270 x105 to discuss giving and naming opportunities.
First Circles: The Power of Community in Your Hands

June 1, 2017 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Imagine a mobile app that makes it easier to support those with special needs and their families - an app that creates a virtual support network ready to assist anyone who needs extra help from time to time. This app is First Circles.
First Circles creates a unique, on-demand network or "circle" ready to support any person with special needs. It is a free download in the Apple and Google app stores. A user simply creates a circle and then invites trusted family members, friends, or caregivers to join it. When help is needed, a member sends a help request to their circle. Other members of their circle receive the request and then volunteer to help. Users can also post messages, reminders and locations or upload photos and files. Users can create as many circles and invite as many members as they need. First Circles has unlimited flexibility. 
Presented By:
Michael Pepe is a distinguished business executive with a background in media, information technology, and business services. In addition to serving as the CEO of Acacia Road Ventures, he is an associate of the  Harvard University Psychology Department and a member of Professor Ellen Langer's Mindfulness Research Lab.  

At Harvard, Michael is conducting a study on police officer well being, correlating stress with policing activity, and investigating the impact of mindfulness instruction on sports performance.
Financial assistance is available. Contact Kerry 
Did you miss a webinar ?

 It is not too late! You can view the recorded webinar using The Arc's on demand feature.  To view click here and select "view session recordings."
WHAT'S TRENDINGwhatstrending
Self-Directed Services: Taking Control of Your Future
Individuals and families can determine their vision and strive to achieve it by creating individualized supports. This presentation will provide an overview of self-directed services as well as traditional service options. The presentation will be given by Jena Shea, whose son John receives Agency with Choice services through The Arc of Greater Plymouth, and Andi Lunden, whose daughter Carol is enrolled in the Participant-Directed Program. Ed Wilson, Regional Manager for Self-Directed Services in the Southeast Region for the Department of Developmental Services will also present and answer questions. Please come and hear about the innovative ways in which people have taken control of their services and how with the help of their families and their communities, they are living lives filled with purpose and meaning.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
6:00 pm -8:00 pm
The Arc of Greater Plymouth | Conference Room
52 Armstrong Road, Plymouth
Light refreshments will be served
To Register for FREE Training Please Contact:
Cari Robbins at 508-732-9292 ext. 124  | Fax 508-732-9229
Remember and Restore

Tuesday, May 23 at 10:00AM (Ceremony at 11:00AM)
Met-Fern Cemetery  | Waltham

Join Sue Wing of DMH and Peter O'Meara of Cardinal Cushing Center in restoring the grounds around the memorials and celebrating the lives of those who passed away in the care of the Fernald School and MetState Hopsital. Rakes, grass trimmers, gloves and transportation from the parking lot will provided.  Memories and music will be shared.

Contact John Hillard (781-894-6050) or Nicole McMahon (617-484-0193) for more information. 

Directions: Drive to 349 Trapelo Road (AKA Mackerel Hill), Waltham, thru the gate to ample parking, signs will be posted. 10 minute walk to cemetery.

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The Arc of Massachusetts | 781-891-6270 |