Leo’s Letter: Bob Perske: Someone we all should know

bobBob Perske was a household name in our field from the 1970s through the 1990s. He and his wife Martha reflect the best traits of advocates, artists, and caring souls. The author of Hope for the Families, New Life in the Neighborhood, to name just two, and formal government reports, died at age 88 this week. His wife, Martha survives him and her lovely artwork has adorned our offices along with others. Martha told theHartford Courant, “he was just driven; he just hated injustice, when anyone was treated unfairly.” I first met Bob in the basement of the Heller School, possibly in 1982, hosted by the legendary, Gunnar Dybwad. Perhaps two score of us, parents, professionals, and some Brandeis students, sat in the audience to hear Perske’s presentation. It was a big step in my post-graduate school education. Fast forward many years after getting to know him at conferences and the like, I met up with him again. I’ll never forget him telling me that he and his wife were doing all right with a great retirement plan, Social Security. He was still educating even through small talk. Bob’s books were uplifting. For example, New Life helped readers understand why community life is meant for all of us. The book with relatively large print even included a few pages of law in regard to the NIMBY (not in my backyard) behavior toward group homes. His novel Show No Mercy shared how a youth with I/DD saved his father and himself after a crash. Bob fought injustice. He was laser focused on the bias that existed toward people with disabilities, especially those who have intellectual disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities. Some years after settling in Darien, Connecticut, Bob dove deeply into what he felt was “unequal justice” or when individuals with intellectual limitations were tricked into guilty pleas by officers or attorneys. In 2002, Bob became the only non-lawyer to ever receive the American Bar Association’s Paul Hearne Award for Services to Persons with Disabilities. Thank you Bob Perske and Martha; learn more about both of them here.  We will continue to fight the bias that exists and one day celebrate its eradication. Sincerely, Leo Sarkissian The Arc of Massachusetts, Executive Director Continue reading

Progress on our Home for the Future

IMG_4223Work is progressing on The Arc of Massachusetts’s new headquarters building. We reported a couple of weeks ago that the aging building that had been our home for nearly 40 years was demolished and hauled away. Since then, crews have cleared the lot and prepared the site for the foundation. Continue reading

Housing Think Tank Gears Up for September Event

think tank logoAutism Housing Pathways, The Arc of Massachusetts and Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts have formed The Autism Housing Think Tank Committee. The Committee is holding a Think Tank event in September with stakeholders from across Massachusetts; including parents, leaders from our state agencies, nonprofit housing organizations, legislators and housing industry experts. The mission of our “Housing Think Tank,” is to identify a range of housing models appropriate to the needs of people with autism; which can be funded publicly, privately, and through public-private partnerships. Continue reading

“Ask The Agency” Information Sessions

DDS will be hosting a series of events called “Ask The Agency.” These information sessions will run on Wednesdays from 6- 8 pm from September through November. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask Representatives from the DDS Northeast Regional Office about DDS Eligibility, Adult Autism Services, Family Supports, Children’s Services, Self-Directed Services, Transitioning to Adulthood, and much more. Continue reading

The Arc Champions Veto Overrides

legislatureThe MA legislature held late July Saturday and Sunday sessions to complete end of year work on various bills and take votes to override vetoes that Governor Baker included when he signed the FY’17 budget in June.   We had great luck with the House and Senate overturning the six vetoes we requested. Continue reading