This issue, entitled Community Inclusion Inspiration, features articles covering important updates on the start of the 193rd legislative session, community inclusion efforts undertaken by Pathways to Friendship and chapters of The Arc in Massachusetts, and much more.
By Leo Sarkissian and Maura Sullivan
Some call it a shortage, but it’s a crisis.
For Ashley – who is in declining health, lives with family, needs 24/7 support, and whose day program closed permanently – it’s a crisis. The isolation compounds the challenges of her condition, although her family sees the glass half-full. For Bill, who lives in a community residence, his inability to go to a day program means he has no skill development and minimal social inclusion, as his residence has limited staffing, too.
One solution is addressing the benchmarks to pay for direct support staff. It’s no secret that disability long term services staff and clinicians are paid less than those in education and health care. We know other sectors have a shortage too, but we estimate a minimum of 2,500 people who still have not returned to day services, not including an unknown number of individuals who turned 22 years during the period with limited supports.
By Katerina Daley
At The Arc’s National Convention in Denver in November 2022, Executive Director Leo Sarkissian was honored with the 2022 Executive Excellence Award. Presented by Past President of The Arc of the United States Fred Misilo, this award recognizes “Executive Directors and CEOs who have made exceptional contributions to the National Council of Executives and The Arc, and who have established an extraordinary example for others to follow.”
By Leo Sarkissian
On January 5, 2023, Maura Healey was inaugurated as Governor by Senate President Karen Spilka. In the weeks that followed, The Arc has closely followed the new administration’s appointments and actions, as they will impact our community. As of January 25, Governor Healey’s cabinet appointments include:
Matthew Gorzkowicz was appointed Secretary of Administration and Finance. Secretary Gorzkowicz will lead the team that develops the Governor’s budget proposals among other things. He previously served in the office for five years, including the role of undersecretary. He is well-known to The Arc since serving as budget director to two different chairs of Senate Ways and Means, prior to moving to the administration. For the past ten years, he has been Associate Vice President for Administration and Finance at the University of Massachusetts.
By Rachel Hayward
We are living in a time of growing appreciation for diversity and the benefits of interacting with people of different races, faiths, backgrounds, and lifestyles. It is a perfect opportunity to help those without disabilities see disability as part of the human experience and another aspect of diversity.
This frames the work of Pathways to Friendship moving forward. Earlier, our focus was on disability and human service providers. We now are educating, training, and partnering with community organizations to build inclusive relationships and demonstrating how being inclusive and friendship-focused enhances the experiences for both those with and without disabilities, while also advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals.