The Arc of Ulster-Greene firmly believes that our staff deserve a living wage. Today's rally, held at the Andy Murphy Neighborhood Center in Kingston, NY, was one of the stops on the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice tour. At the event, Executive Director John McHugh spoke briefly with Governor Andrew Cuomo, expressed his full support of the campaign for a $15 minimum wage and shared with him the amazing impact that this would have on the employees at The Arc of Ulster-Greene. He then queried the Governor for funding solutions, as our revenues come from New York State's Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. The Governor responded, "I will fund it."
While neither the Governor's 2016 Budget nor his 30-day Budget Amendments provide for the necessary cost of living adjustment (COLA), his words give us great hope. Our continued lobby efforts - in Albany and locally - are making an impact towards including the appropriate monies within the state budget come April 1.
Join us in our continued lobbying by contacting his office with your stories regarding our It Matters To Me campaign.
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) work long hours and provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have the responsibility to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are safe in their residences, lead fulfilling lives and receive critical attention for complex issues. DSPs are some of the hardest working employees in the nation, but they are often paid at, or just above, minimum wage. Their wages are set by the state, and they deserve to be paid appropriately for their work.
Please share your stories about how a DSP has touched your life. We encourage you to explain how you rely on your DSP to care for your family member and ensure their well-being.
Despite rising costs of preschools for children with developmental disabilities, the state government has not increased funding in six years. These special schools are not allowed to retain reserve funds for contingencies, like capital repairs, and the State Education Department (SED) recoups any excess tuition. The Brookside School, along with other similar preschools throughout the state could soon collapse without proper support.
Please tell us about your experience at The Brookside School. How did our school help your child or impact his/her future? Your stories will help our legislators understand the importance of early intervention at the preschool level.
Employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities are in very short supply. And now, as sheltered workshops have been phased out in place of integrated employment, which pays at least minimum wage, many people with developmental disabilities have found that securing a job is simply out of reach. These individuals cannot perform to the minimum wage standards, but they want to work. For them, earning a paycheck creates a meaningful life and they seek to be contributing members of our community.
What can you do about this? Request that your legislator pass S.5805 by Senator Young/A.8111 by Assemblyman Santabarbara in the upcoming 2016 legislative session. This bill, initiated by NYSARC, creates a customized employment program in state government by reducing jobs to their simple component parts (i.e. paper shredding, answering the phone), each of which can be performed as a single, competitive job by people with disabilities.
Our residential housing takes each individual's needs and goals into consideration. But funding for these programs is decreasing while need has increased. Thousands of families are worried about who will take care of their sons or daughters when they are unable to do so.
Contact the Governor's Office, your New York State Senator and New York State Assemblymember!
Say, "Governor Cuomo and the Legislature MUST fund the $15 minimum wage proposal! Funding is critical to the health, safety and well-being of people with developmental disabilities and it’s the right thing to do for the people who work tirelessly caring for them."
1. Governor (518) 474 -1041 and press 3 to speak to an assistant
2. Senate switchboard – (518) 455 – 2800 – and ask for your Senator. You can find your Senator at http://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator
3. Assembly switchboard (518) 455-4100 – and ask for your Assemblymember. You can find your Assemblymember at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/search
Supporting people with developmental disabilities goes beyond caring for their basic needs. Like all people, it is the joys of living, the experiences of friendship and the meaning of family that give life its true value. Thanks to Guardianship and Remainder Grants awarded to The Arc of Ulster-Greene from The Trustees of the NYSARC, Inc. Trust, hundreds of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities in Ulster and Greene counties have been able to experience life in new ways.
In April of 2015, The Arc of Ulster-Greene received $63,000 to help fund the guardianship program and the 16 adults supported by it. The program offers adults affected by developmental disabilities a sense of family, especially for those who do not have any, by pairing them with a volunteer to regularly visit, celebrate their birthday and share holidays. In addition, the guardianship program hosts three annual events that are extended to people beyond those who are in the guardianship program.
Those supported by The Arc of Ulster-Greene cannot wait each year for the Spring Fling, Summer Picnic and Holiday Luncheon. The annual Spring Fling, held in April, is the highlight of their year with guests dressing in formal attire, and some even renting limousines for the evening. The dance includes a cocktail hour, dinner and a DJ who keeps everyone on their feet the entire night. August is when the program hosts a summer picnic and the annual holiday party is held in December featuring a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“Our guardianship program does not receive state funding so we rely on these grants to meet the needs of the individuals who depend on our organization for their care,” explained Melissa Nilsen, director of Quality Management and Corporate Compliance. “These funds are also used for gifts, events and cover one person’s salary. In addition, this year a few of the individuals in the program passed on and some of the money was used to pay for flowers at their funeral and inscriptions on their headstones. Thanks to this grant, we were also able to bury one person next to his mother downstate.”
In addition to the Guardianship grant, the Trustees of the NYSARC, Inc. Trust also provided a remainder fund grant of $8,000 for The Arc of Ulster-Greene’s 2015 calendar year. The funds provided The Arc of Ulster-Greene an opportunity to offer more than one hundred people recreational pursuits they may not otherwise receive. The grant supports a variety of interests and needs by encouraging individuals to apply for money that will fund a recreational activity of their choosing.
Dakota was one of the recipients of this year’s grant. An adolescent who has begun riding, grooming and feeding horses as part of her therapy, Dakota requested the opportunity to spend a week at a horse camp over the summer. Working with horses has helped Dakota better understand priorities, taught her responsibility, built her confidence and helped her socially in school. Dakota is thriving in this type of structured environment where expectations are clear and criticism is minimal. A week at this camp provided her with the opportunity to have a more concentrated experience.
Edna, another grant recipient, has enrolled in four different art classes at Michael’s where she will have the opportunity to learn about art journal techniques, making homemade cards, seascape painting and landscape painting. The grant covered her classes and supplies. An additional example is a local family with a young son whose disabilities restricted him from riding a typical bike. They requested grant money to help pay for a $750 adapted bicycle and received $250 to help cover some of the cost. Other money went towards a group of people interested in learning to play volleyball that received knee pads and training balls, a boy that received a basketball hoop and ball, a man who will take martial arts classes and more. There was even a trio of women from our Palmer Homes that attended a Chaka Kahn concert at UPAC as part of this grant.
Statewide, remainder fund grants totaling $ 1,466,000 were awarded to support NYSARC guardianship programs, and a total of $1,874,000 in remainder grants was awarded in 2015 to support recreation and guardianship.
“We are very thankful for the Trustees of the NYSARC, Inc. Trust grants,” said John McHugh, executive director of The Arc of Ulster-Greene. “They provide necessary funding for our guardianship program and allow many people to pursue their recreational interests. We look forward to continue supporting individuals through these grants.”
Date: December 21, 2015
On Friday November 13, The Arc of Ulster-Greene Foundation hosted its annual Holiday Auction fundraising event, raising over $35,000 to help fund programs that support individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. For the first time, the event was located at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory and welcomed over 160 guests who enjoyed a stylish, festive evening complete with numerous auctions and live music courtesy of the Dan Davis Quartet.
“It has been thrilling to watch our annual Holiday Auction grow in attendance since 1992,” said executive director John McHugh. “While we enjoyed the previous event space, we had outgrown it due to our expanding guest list and prize offerings. The move to a bigger venue provides more opportunities for local businesses to show their support for The Arc of Ulster-Greene. Their donations demonstrate a commitment to helping people that we support develop into respected members of our community.”
Five different auctions and raffles took place throughout the evening, providing lots of opportunities for participants to purchase holiday gifts while contributing to a worthy cause. The silent auction featured luxury gifts like designer handbags, dinners at coveted local restaurants and fine jewelry. Guests also competed for themed gift baskets, including those offering baking and cooking tools, wines and spirits and even baskets for new grandparents and golfers. The event also offered a wine pull and a raffle for an assortment of gift certificates from local businesses.
After dinner, The Arc of Ulster-Greene Foundation kicked off its live auction with a variety of high-end items, which generated spirited back-and-forth bidding on prizes. This year’s most sought-after items included a home security system, an electric keyboard and an outdoor barbeque for 50 people including entertainment from a live band.
“We were excited to be at this new venue for our annual Holiday Auction,” said Kathy Bonelli, events and development coordinator. “Many people did not know about the performance hall so there was a lot of buzz before, during and after the event. Guests loved the high ceilings, open space and hip décor. And the live jazz music really set the tone for a fun and generous evening of competitive bidding and charitable giving.”
In addition to donating goods and services to the various auctions, local businesses and individuals can also participate as event sponsors, giving them the opportunity to reach prestigious residents of Ulster and Greene counties. This year’s sponsors included Rifton Equipment, Relph Benefit Advisors, D&D Automotive, Rondout Savings Bank, Ulster Federal Credit Union, Dutton Architecture, and Rose & Kiernan. All of the money raised from the Holiday Auction benefits the programs at The Arc of Ulster-Greene.
Date: December 10, 2015
... And why It Matters to YOU!
Earlier this year, we asked for your help to deliver an important message to Albany through the Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever campaign on our Facebook Page. Thank you to those who "liked", "shared" and, most importantly, shared their stories to make this important point real!
Our struggle for recognition of our community's need and fair allocation of funding continues. To keep the momentum going, NYSARC, Inc. and all its chapters across New York State are rallying for support in our new campaign, It Matters To Me. This initiative focuses attention on issues impacting people with developmental disabilities, staff that provide services to them and their families.
Once again, your voice is key!
Our goal is to build public awareness while collecting compelling evidence through the It Matters To Me campaign to encourage state legislature and the governor to include the needs of individuals with I/DD, our staff who provide top notch services and families in their planning for next year's budget.
Our topics that we want to drive home to Albany are:
Please add your voice to ours by sharing your story and photos. Tell us how we've helped you or your family, why you deserve a better wage and why these necessary services should continue to receive state funding.