Did you know that we are a membership organization? What this means is that our government voice is direct proportion to how many members we have saying that they support what we do. By joining us as members, we gain voices. The voices are crucial for several important reasons. We are a Chapter of The Arc of NY. The internal benefit of a large membership gives strength to the vote within the organization on policy and direction guidance. The external importance of being a member is you stand with us to tell Government, politicians, and the community that you support our mission: that everyone should be included in society and allowed to make a difference in the world.   Our Annual Membership Meeting for The Arc of Rensselaer County was held in May. At the meeting, I gave an update on the programs we offer and the accomplishments we achieved in the last twelve months. Below are some highlights of those:
  • Achieved accreditation by the Council on Quality Leadership (CQL) in November 2018. This is a four-year accreditation where CQL comes in for a week and reviews our practices, policies, and programs.

  • Completed the transition of 3 top-level retirements: CEO Hanns Meissner, 39 years; Ed Martin Associate Executive Director of Adult Supports, 40 years; and CJ Heins Director of Quality Assurance, 13 years. 

  • In September I was proud to hand out five year Service Awards to 21 Staff; 10 year Service Awards to 15 staff; 15 year Service Awards to 6 staff; one 20 year Service Award; three 25 year Service Awards; one 30 year Award and one 35 Years of Service Award. Also, we handed out 25 awards for staff recognized by their peers for going above and beyond. 

  •  We performed over 97,000 units of service. The Arc is funded by the units of service providing support for our individuals.

  • To me, the most significant accomplishment is our Direct Support Professionals fund (DSP fund) that was kicked off at our Lake Event on June 27, 2018. From that point until the beginning of December we fundraised over $113,000 to support the Direct Support Professional Fund. In December we were able to give our DSP up to $400 as a one-time payment. You might wonder why we did this instead of putting the money into programs? The DSP’s are core to our work. However, the government funding right now for their pay is not enough. They should be compensated better. We are working again to raise even more money for our DSP in 2019! Go to our website www.renarc.org to find out how you can donate!

  • To help as a resource to our Residents, Residential Staff, and Nurses, we added the ability to call telemedicine to support residents in need of medical care. Through this program, we diverted over 140 calls from possibly going to the Emergency Room which saves Residents from waiting for ER Care, saved staff from going to ER, and saved the funders over $200,000.

  • We hosted a variety of employee recognition events in addition to the the annual picnic; E Biz Docs our NYSID partner hosted a BBQ Lunch; Brunswick Center held a hall of appreciation; and we held our first employee night at the Valleycats.

  • We held various employment recruitment events such as a Haunted House; an Easter Egg Hunt; an Ice Cream Social. In addition we held Walk-in Wednesdays every week for those seeking employment and participated in numerousl local area job fairs. In all, we hired 215 employees in 2018.

  • On a sad note, we said goodbye to our Work Center which was a home base for some of our first Arc services. OPWDD was closing the funding for this area. The good news is that we have started a new venture with some of the employees from the Work Center moving to an affirmative business model. We are looking for to great success in that program. 

  • Another sad note we said goodbye to Medicaid Service Coordination as OPWDD changed the way that service was delivered. We worked with local providers to find a new entity for the ten staff from MSC but said goodbye to these staff as our employees on July 1st. 2018.

  • We also elected the new Board of Directors for the 2019-2020 Year. First, let me say thank you to Mary Muller, our President, for the last three years. Mary has been a huge resource for me as we went through the transition. She will remain as the Vice President. We are excited to have Edward O. Spain move into the President role. Ed has been on the board since June of 2015 serving on various committees. Also, we happily report we have added Sue Rosa, Vice President of the Commission on Economic Opportunity located here in Troy.  These officers are joined by the following to round out the Board of Directors: David Borge, Charlette Burgess, Diane Dearborn, Sally Dunbar, Edie Hall, Deborah Hanish-Schreyer, Robert Hergrueter, Kathy Jimino, Peter Jones, Michelle Kearnan, Dee Kronau, Lisa Mahar, Julie Martin, Ani Mooney, James Moran, Debra Nuttall, Chrisse Rasmussen, Mindy Serkez, Kathleen Sheeran, and Jacqueline Tureby.

I express my sincere thank you to this group for their help in guiding the mission and strategy of The Arc of Rensselaer County, especially through my first year as the CEO. I look forward to another year.