"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. "  
Anne Frank
Help Can Take
Many Forms

The Arc of Rensselaer County is proud of our accomplishments during 2018. We continued to move forward in our journey of helping people be included in society. We look forward to improving in 2019, but it will be very challenging as we have changes coming to our funding and continue to face a workforce crisis. 

In 2018 individuals, families, and businesses helped us in our 2018 Direct Support Professional (DSP) Fund . We did a great job as a community getting behind this critical first-year initiative. We would like to express our sincerest thank you to those who gave. We raised over $100,000 and were able to give each DSP worker $400 at Christmas time. This was greatly appreciated!  I have set an ambitious goal for us for 2019 of $400,000. If we get this amount, we will be able to give each DSP around $1,000 in December. I admit it is a stretch, but I am convinced if we work together we can do it.

I call on you for help...
As we did in 2018, all of the net proceeds from our 2019 fundraising events will go towards our DSP fund. For those who are able, I ask you to support the 2019 Direct Support Professional (DSP) Fund with whatever you can afford. Every dollar makes a difference. I shout out to James Friss, a Residential Program Manager, who was the first person to sign up for a monthly payment to the DSP Fund.  Thank you, Jim! 

Donating is simple. You can make your contributions online at https://www.renarc.org/donate/dsp-support-fund , send checks to us at The Arc of Rensselaer County 79- 102 nd St, Troy NY 12180, or call us at 518-274-3110 ext. 3004 . If making a monthly donation like Jim works for you go to our web page and click on Make this a monthly donation .

I realize that not everyone has the necessary resources to donate. We can still use your help by pitching in to make our fundraising events a success. We have many events already scheduled, and more being announced soon. We need individuals to help us with the following:

  • Mark your calendar and join us for our events. Bring your friends!
  • Consider lending a hand with an event.
  • Obtaining items for our Evening on the Lake Live and Silent Auctions
  • Obtain or donate gift cards and bottle of wine for our Gift Card and Wine Pull
  • Donate items and gift cards for the Live or Silent Auction
  • Help Connect us with businesses who might want to become Event Sponsors and Partners
  • Serve on a fundraising committee
If you can help or you have any other thoughts call Lisa in the Development Office at 518-274-3110 x3028 or email her at
l romeo-mullin@renarc.org.
I call on your help...
There is more. We need your voice! Did you know that the current New York State budget, for the 10 th year in a row, does not contain a Human Services cost of living adjustment (COLA)? We need to be heard! Each of us must advocate for a fair and reasonable living wage for our well-deserving staff that work in Direct Support roles. Remind your state representatives that we have gone ten years with no COLA. Ask them to add back the 2.9 % COLA the Governor has taken out of the budget for 2019-2020. Stand with us at our bfair2directcare rallys . The larger our support the louder our voice. For more details go to http://www.bfair2directcare.com/ a nd get involved. Keep an eye on our Facebook page where we will be posting information regarding rallies and advocacy efforts. 
I call on your help...
Consider joining a great workforce. Send your family and friends as well.We offer excellent benefits and rewarding work. Go to https://www.renarc.org/employment . You can also check out our Walk-in Wednesday Interview Opportunities. Ask for Rachel.

I leave you with this thought. The people we support need others for assistance with daily living.  It is not a choice, it is a fact . To some it may seem that I am asking a lot, but when you consider how people’s lives depend on our work it is clear that I am asking so little. This agency was started by parents almost 70 years ago because they wanted their children included in society. We continue that mission still today. Our services include supporting people in their homes and the things they need help with to be part of society. The Day Services and Employment Supports we offer are vital ways for the people we serve to share in the same things we all want: connections, community, and currency. 

So please get involved. We cannot stand on the sidelines any longer waiting for the government to help us.  We need to find other ways to support our efforts.

Thank you for considering one or all of my requests. If you are interested in helping in some other area I did not mention then email me a t dmullin@renarc.org so we can connect. 
Do it now! Mark your calendar for these Rensselaer County Arc Fund Raising Events
For 2019!
March 13
“Play with your Food” Dinner Theater at Browns Revolution Hall
June 26
“An Evening on the Lake” at Old Daley on Crooked Lake
October 23
“Community Partners Breakfast” at Franklin Terrace Ballroom
November 7
“Trivia Celebration” at the Brunswick Elks Club
Would you like to be a sponsor for our events?
We would love to hear from you!
For more information email lromeo-mullin@renarc.org
The Direct Support Professional Fund
Continues For 2019!
In June of 2018 the DSP Fund initiative was kicked off at our Evening On The Lake fundraising event. 100% of net profits from our fundraising events would go directly to our Direct Support Staff. For more information on the DSP Fund go to our website www.renarc.org
February 2019 Photography Exhibit

The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is partnering this February with The Arc of Rensselaer County, a community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Robert Wright, a local Waterfordian, is presenting his work depicting various scenes of Waterford at its finest and through the season, which will be displayed at the museum for the month of February only.

Robert Wright has been an active professional in photography since 2010, with his work being featured in numerous events, such as the Schenectady Gazette and on the Time Warner News Network. He's also been recognized by the New York State Association of the Board of Visitors Conference in Albany, Rochester, and Buffalo, New York. Robert's work has placed in competitions of the Schenectady Photographic Society as well.

Using a wheel chair perspective to portray what he sees and how he sees the world, his pictures have a unique look compared to that of traditional photographers. Due to a congenital condition he has limited mobility of his arms. Robert uses his head and a keen eye to activate the shutter release on his camera.

The Waterford Historical Museum & Cultural Center is proud to join the list of institutions presenting his work, including many libraries like William K. Sanford, Brunswick Community Library, Sand Lake Town Library and the Photo Center of the Capital District the Chapel and Cultural Center of the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

No matter where his work is, it wows and delights people everywhere! The museum is holding its opening reception to the public on  Friday, February 1st from 7pm to 9pm . Admission on this night is free to attend to view his photographs of scenes especially near and dear to locals.

The exhibit will be on display for the month of February only. Standard museum admission fees apply of $6 adults and $5 children/seniors. It is available from 10am to 3pm, Tuesdays through Fridays. His work will also be available for purchase at the end of the exhibit.

From the The Writing Corner of Stephan Roberts
An Interview With
James Blessing
On Riverside North and South

Jim Blessing is the Associate Executive Director for the Rensselaer County Arc. Riverside South got sold back in April 2018. It was open for the last 40 years. Riverside South closed its doors forever on Sunday 12/18/18. Jim has been working at the site for 38 and half years. His favorite memory at Riverside south is having the yearly Holiday party. When asked about the transition from South to North Jim said it went very smooth. The reason for the closure was because in 2016 Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) said all workshops had to close by the end of 2018, which made Riverside North scale down from a workshop to a business that employs a handful of very skilled workers. Thanks to the extra room, Riverside South could now use the other half of Riverside North for Day Supports. When looking towards the future Jim said he hopes that Riverside North can make enough money to stay open long term as a business and as a day habilitation for the people supported by the ARC of Rensselaer County.
The End of an Era

By Jim Blessing

After a 40-year tradition of providing sheltered employment, 2018 marked the end of that era.

In 1978, the Arc opened Riverside Enterprises at 484 River Street. Adults supported by the Arc up until that time were engaged in arts and crafts-type activities in rented space in the Frear Building in Frear Park. This was the first opportunity many had to earn a wage and feel the gratification of bringing home a paycheck.

About this time, the Arc operated a craft shop located near 4 th and Fulton Street in downtown Troy with the idea of selling the crafts made by people in the activities center. One very talented staff person was a seamstress and provided tailoring services at that location as well. There turned out to be very little interest from the public in buying crafts, so the storefront business closed.

Over the years, Riverside Enterprises grew and encompassed a number of satellite operations in addition to the main work center at 484 River Street. People worked processing law books for the Mathew Bender Company on the 8 th floor of what is now the Hedley Building. Our wire operations began in rented space on Hoosick Road and eventually moved to what is now Riverside North at 39 119 th Street. 

During the 1980’s, many people that had lived in state institutions for people with developmental disabilities were being relocated back to their home communities and there was a big demand for work center services as people needed constructive activities during the day. There were long waiting lists and the number of people supported in the work center swelled to over 150. In developing the Arc’s first strategic plan in 1988, the Board of Directors made a strong statement that “small is better”. While other agency's work centers were growing unchecked reaching 300 – 400 people, the Arc realized that quality supports are best realized when personal relationships exist and people know others well enough to care about them. In 1990, the Arc committed to downsizing its sheltered workforce in favor of community employment opportunities. A cap was placed on the number of people to be supported allowing new people in only in emergency situations.

Over the next 3 decades, the number of people supported in the work center fell as a result of people getting older, retiring, passing away, choosing other services options or getting employed in the community.

In April of 2018, Riverside South, the original work center was sold. In June of 2018, work center services ended at Riverside North. It was a bitter sweet day as the remaining staff was proud of the supports provided to hundreds of people over the years.

On July 2 nd , 2018, the Riverside North building became a small business. Seven people who previously worked in the work center were hired at an above minimum wage rate as Arc employees. This small workforce is responsible the manufacturing and/or the distribution of Riverside’s 3 remaining product lines: powdered food and beverages, scour pads, and wire products. The goal of this business is to become at least financially sustainable by the end of 2020 and more importantly, provide a source of surplus revenue for the Arc as we face financial challenges on most fronts.

On December 17 th , Riverside Community Supports moved into a portion of Riverside North for use as a hub site for people who spend most of their day in the community and need a place to gather several times a day.

The end of an era for sheltered work is just the beginning of a new era for the people of Riverside as new opportunities unfold both as a business and in our community! 
The Arc would like to thank Joshua Flaherty (left) and Richard Houser(middle), owners of TAFLE, a high end game and comic book store, for sponsoring the coffee cart of employee and self-advocate, John Larose(right). TAFLE purchased the cart and the pump pots allowing John to sell coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to the employees at 79-102nd Street Arc offices. The money earned through selling goes directly into the DSP fund. Joshua and Richard, both former employees of the Arc, saw this as a chance to support both the agency and the people we serve.
TAFLE is located at the Clifton Park Center. For more information about this business check out their website https://taflegames.com or call 518-952-6760
Thanks Again TAFLE!
The Arc of Rensselaer County/www.renarc.org