Leo’s Letter: Passion and Civil Rights Together

What happens when you combine passion with a civil rights mission? Anything can happen.

Last week I outlined some of the major challenges facing us in the weeks and months ahead. You can read that blog here on our website. On Tuesday, Peter Berns, the CEO of The Arc, joined us to talk about the national landscape as well as several best practice initiatives of The Arc beyond our governmental affairs work.

It comes as no surprise that the proposals in DC continue to threaten the Medicaid program through which federal dollars underwrite over 50% of disability services in our state (and even more in economically disadvantaged states!). If the federal state partnership is altered, it would affect far more than the present services: imagine what it would mean for those Turning 22, who will be needing adult services in the years ahead.

In response to the threats, Luis Bachman from The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport reminded us that ours is a civil rights mission. Why aren’t we broadcasting this from the rooftops? There should be statues in the middle of cities reminding us of how far we have come: from the shadows of dark institutions to flourishing in community life.

In that spirit, Peter shared in closing two significant aspects of The Arc life that he saw when he joined us nine years ago. He had never before seen the level of passion that he has now seen across the country. It is a passion from individuals, parents, siblings, and many of the staff who have dedicated their lives to this field. And then, a simple statement from a past chair-leader of the Board, to remind us why we do what we do: “I am relying on The Arc, after I’m gone, to protect the rights of my daughter.”

Simple, and real.





Leo V. Sarkissian

Executive Director

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