#Arc Strong!

Wow, I do not think we ever thought our Spring 2020 would be spent as it has been. I am left, once again, in awe of the staff at the Arc. You will find this newsletter filled with so many great moments as our community has been coming together in response to this pandemic. Our group of unsung heroes face the challenges of this pandemic with such a positive energy and creative thinking.  For the last six weeks, many of those we support have missed going to the Day Habilitation Program, Night Recreations, and/or jobs. But that has not stopped our programs! Routines have been transferred to different routines, and confined mainly to home. The individuals we support have been amazingly cooperative in facing this new world. The staff has been supportive in figuring out creative ways to celebrate birthdays, provide entertainment, and bring in services and supports. Families have gone through challenges as well. Some are helping their relatives more now that programs are closed. Other families have been restricted in visiting their loved ones living in an IRA Program, but still, ways to communicate with their loved ones are ever present.
In the face of all of this, community members have noticed the essential work that we do every day. Keeping people safe is our number one priority, but we face the unknown. So take today, take a deep breath, and know the end of this will come, but for now, we all are in this together.

I send my thoughts to the community during these stressful times.
Don Mullin, CEO
Served With An Endless
Amount Of Love
This week Howard Gross, our community partner from eBizDocs,cooked and packaged hundreds of meals as a thank you to our Direct Support Professionals and residents. 500 meals were handed out assembly line style during this curbside pickup from the Arc Business Offices.

Kumi Tucker from Channel 13 News joined us and shared our story. Thank you to Howard and Kumi, for your generosity, your appreciation, and your support. Follow the link to hear Kumi's story.
Brunswick Center Services Reshapes It's Program To Meet Present Day Needs
A Letter From Program Director
April 27, 2020

Dear families,

It has now been more than five weeks since New York State and The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities notified Brunswick Center that our program, and other programs like ours, was required to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have seen this unprecedented situation unfold in our state, country and around the world. It has required steps we've never had to undertake in our agency's history.
I'm proud to report that despite these challenging times, we've seen the creativity and commitment of our staff shine through. Every BCS staff is still working, they have been spread out to different locations and supporting the efforts of the agency in new and different ways. Our Direct Support Professionals, Drivers and Managers have each been reassigned to provide needed services in our agency's residential program. Our Program Coordinators, Nurses and department supervisors have been part of our shutdown response team and are responsible for coordinating services to dozens of different locations. We've been significantly restricted in the ways and locations we can support people, so we've focused our attention on helping people stay safe, enjoy activities within the home, or to connect people with phone calls, wellness checks and online activities. We've been delivering activity supplies to homes, delivered food to families and group homes, taught classes in a virtual format and worked to ensure our agency programs are staying informed of the constant flow of changing policies and procedures.
Unfortunately, we have not been notified when our program will be able to reopen. We will communicate directly with you about any change to that status as things progress. We know that supporting your family member at home without a program has been a difficult change. If you are struggling and need help or ideas within the home that Brunswick Center can assist with, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We pray that everyone; families, people we support, staff and our community partners, stay healthy in the days ahead. As always, thank you for your support to our program, and we look forward to when we can be together again.

Carrie Painter
Program Director Brunswick Center Services
When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lasagna, Or Cookies, Or Crafts!

To help stay productive and help socially distancing with her more medically fragile roommates, Kathy Shea and her staff person, Lisa Belli, got creative! They found that the great outdoors, and even the car, could work as a studio for Creative Arts.
At Philip's house he and his staff person, Geraldine May, have been using their time for all sorts of creative fun!
Positive Words of Encouragement From Our Friends!
Hanns Meissner, Former CEO
The Arc of Rensselaer County
Jeremy Wanamaker
CEO of Complete Network Solutions
Kumi Tucker Channel 13 News
Keith Algozzine
CEO/Virtual Emergency Medicine
Matt and Chrissy Rasmussen, Long Time Advocates and Friends of the Arc
A note from long time employee,
Retired Associative Executive Director of Adult Supports, Ed Martin
April 25, 2020

To The Staff of The Arc:
"... I want you to know that the work you do, with this particular agency, is noticed and valued. It is your direct efforts that create an environment of safety and enrichment for the people you support every single minute of every single day. It is your involvement that keeps the spirit of The Arc alive and growing. It is your willingness to come back tomorrow that fosters hope for a better day-which I do believe will happen very soon.

Our agency-The Arc of Rensselaer County, has been blessed over the years with great families, Board members, staff, and most of all the people we support. You are part of a very unique community of people that are generous in so many ways. You are also part of a family that deeply appreciates your presence and contributions. In The Arc of Rensselaer County it will never be any other way.

So as I close this message, please know that you have my sincerest thanks. I may now be on the sidelines, but I will never leave this family we call The Arc of Rensselaer County.

Ed Martin
A note from Katherine G. Alonge-Coons, LCSW-R
Commissioner, Rensselaer County Department of Mental Health
 Dear Colleagues at Rensselaer ARC,

Words cannot capture the gratitude myself, and so many others have, regarding the care you are providing to the folks who have services via the Rensselaer ARC. This is such a difficult and challenging time for those of us who have essential jobs - caring for others. We have our own thoughts, feelings, fears, frustrations, joys and sorrows etc… in this State of Emergency. Yet, while we have our own concerns and needs, we still need to provide vital care. I urge each of you to care for yourself well, in order to car for others well. Caring for ourselves now, is very important – not only to maintain our physical health, but also to care for our mental and spiritual well-being. I share with you the poem below, as it contains so many aspects of maintaining our own well-being, and the well-being of those we serve.

Take Time…
Take time to think;
it is the source of power.

Take time to read;
it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play;
it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet;
it is the opportunity to seek God.

Take time to be aware;
it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved;
it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh;
it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly;
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream;
it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray;
it is the greatest power on earth.
— Author Unknown

Be healthy, Be well, and Be hopeful!!!

Sincerely, Kathy

Tell Congress to Include the Disability Community
in COVID-19 Relief Bills
As the COVID-19 pandemic sickens and kills thousands of Americans in every corner of our country, The Arc is alarmed that the needs of people with disabilities and the undervalued workforce supporting them are still not adequately addressed.

Congress passed new emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that replenishes funding for federal loan programs for small businesses and provides additional funding for hospitals and federal agencies. The measure benefits the economy and helps support businesses and organizations that provide services to people with disabilities, including state and local chapters of The Arc. However, the bipartisan deal falls short of meeting the urgent needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), who are dying from COVID-19 and face grave danger.

In the next COVID-19 response package, it is crucial that Congress creates grants for states to expand home and community-based services (HCBS) to help keep people with I/DD in their homes and communities – and out of institutions and other dangerous congregate settings, where people are dying in greater numbers due to exposure to the virus. If Congress doesn’t provide this critical funding immediately, even more preventable deaths may occur. By investing in HCBS, we can also pay the workforce that supports people with I/DD to live as independently as possible in communities. Our workforce is risking its personal health and safety to provide supports to people with I/DD, often without adequate personal protective equipment.

“While the COVID-19 legislation passed by Congress provides short-term relief for our economy, it fails to address the looming, long-term crisis facing people with disabilities, direct support professionals, and families. The Arc and our persistent grassroots advocates urge Congress to remember the needs of all Americans –not just some – by including state grants to expand HCBS in the next corona virus relief package. We fear this pandemic could undo years of progress for people with disabilities, and we can’t let that happen. Sustaining and strengthening access to supports for a life in the community is one of our best defenses against this relentless virus,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc
Help Our Voice Be Heard! Membership=A Voice In Government!
Membership Can Be Mailed to the Business Office at 79-102nd Street, Troy, NY 12180
Essential and Proud Of It!
Mindy Serkez is getting a ride to and from her essential manufacturing job everyday
Missy Face timing With Kendra
As you know The Arc of Rensselaer was deemed an essential provider. We also have a number of folks who are keeping the essential components of the economy going in their roles from working at the local supermarket, drug store, and also staying connected with those who are also on PAUSE.

Missy Reynolds, long time employee and Employment Specialist for the Arc, like her colleges, shifted on a dime to provide supports in a socially distant way. She now delivers her support using technology and keeping a face to face connection which is so very important for individuals we support. Missy is teaching Kendra important job skills to keep her career goals of becoming a cashier moving forward.

Another task that shifted was being more available to get individuals to work, as public transportation became a safety concern. Our coaches jumped in to helping folk navigate new paths to employment.

Then there also is the same need for onsite supports but the training now includes social distancing, proper wearing PPE, and other precautions to keep the individual and the community safe.

Kudos to the Employment Specialist for keeping the supports and meeting the changes for a new world.

We Celebrate Nurses Week
Thank you Ross Valve
Employees from Ross Valve gave back to the Arc cleaned and grooming our Park Avenue location.
The Arc of Rensselaer County www.renarc.org