When 2020 began, it was an exciting year for The Arc of Massachusetts as we prepared to celebrate our 65th anniversary.
- We held our annual Supporting Families Day at the State House, welcoming over 150 self-advocates, family members, caregivers, and staff members.
- After years of tireless advocacy, Nicky’s Law was officially passed and signed into law by Governor Baker, creating a registry for those care providers substantiated of abuse against individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism.
- We undertook a new advocacy campaign concerning the 2020 Census, as the population of individuals with disabilities is officially considered a hard-to-count population by the Census Bureau.
- Our 42nd Annual Legislative Reception, held in the first week of March, welcomed over 500 individuals and championed the importance of equity in the workforce, both for individuals with I/DD and autism and those who provide their care.
But in the second week of March, everything changed. The state shut down. The Arc pivoted. And you joined us every step of the way.
Even though things were hardly the celebratory year we had hoped for when the year began, we still managed to accomplish so much with your help. Today, as we look back on the year and prepare to move forward, we want to celebrate these accomplishments with you.
- We got to work right away, establishing a weekly webinar series to stay connected with our community day in and day out. Between March and December, we held over 200 webinars, which were routinely attended by hundreds of passionate family members, self-advocates, changemakers, care providers, and agency leaders.
- Over 30,000 of you took part in our urgent advocacy campaigns, calling for equitable health accommodations and healthcare triage, hazard pay for the direct support workforce, and funding for the support system safety net. More than 300 families shared their stories in our community outreach survey, which informed our conversations with policymakers.
- We undertook new efforts to explore areas of diversity and intersectionality, with focus groups, guest speakers, cultural competency in our healthcare program Operation House Call, and new short-term and long-term organizational goals.
- You embraced our move toward high-urgency, short-notice events and campaigns. Over 400 attendees took part our first ever virtual rally in November with less than 24 hours notice. Another 400 individuals signed on to show support for I/DD vaccine prioritization in less than 12 hours.
Like much of the world around us, The Arc of Massachusetts has been forced to respond, adapt, and overcome the many changes that have been thrown our way during this year. Again and again, you have responded, adapted, overcome, acted, and more.
Our gratitude for your passionate commitment in this difficult year knows no bounds. As 2021 approaches, we hope you’ll be ready to continue fighting right alongside us.