Meet Jomel, a marathon runner who's looking forward to participating in this year's Rock and Roll Marathon. Jomel is also one of more than 300 adults with disabilities who participate in The Arc of San Antonio's
Life Enrichment Programs, specifically the day activity program for adults. I met Jomel during a recent tour of The Arc facilities, after a recent conversation with their Development Director Beth Green, revealed just how little I know about nonprofits who serve disabled persons.
To begin with, The Arc serves children, teens and adults with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities. Intellectual Disability is characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. Developmental Disability means mental and/or physical impairments--Downs syndrome, Fragile X, cerebral palsy, and hundreds of other specific diagnoses. Yes, it's more complicated than that, but this gives you an idea of the range of disabilities the staff deals with on a day-to-day basis.
Picture yourself with a developmentally disabled six year old. She's in school during the day, but your work hours require you find after-school care. Enter The Arc's program for after-school, holiday, and all-day summer programs for children and young adults from the ages of 5 - 22. As your child grows older, the needs continue. "Persons with disabilities have few options after they can no longer go to public school," said Green. "Attending our day activity program is a good transition for those adults."
Lastly, but maybe the most important, The Arc's staff includes experienced case managers who help families find resources--financial assistance, vocational opportunities, help with medical equipment, respite assistance and more. There is a series of educational seminars
that include The Basics of Texas Medicaid Waiver Programs and Guardianship and Special Needs Trusts. Topics which are essential to families with disabled members.
Well, you've heard it before and you'll probably continue to hear how budget cuts are affecting human services. This year, there's been a 27% decrease from City funding sources and 3% decrease from the State. This is especially tough on families in San Antonio where there is a large percentage of low-income families. "We have had to cut staff and some fees are on a sliding scale," Green told me. "All of us at The Arc are very committed to our programs and will continue working to 'enhance the quality of life for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.'"
San Antonio activist and nonprofit veteran Laura Carter believes in enabling the community to work from the heart, not just the wallet. During her time at the San Antonio Area Foundation, Laura implemented new technology, managing website design and content for all published materials. She introduced multimedia and social media into the communications plan, increasing the community's participation in the Foundation's programs. She is now Communications Director at Providence Catholic School.
Follow @lauracarter or visit A Small Blog