POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- The Arc of Dutchess, a local nonprofit that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has been named as the Junior League of Poughkeepsie’s "Organization of the Year."
Accepting the award on behalf of The Arc will be Crys McCuin, its executive director.
Three individuals will be honored as "Women of the Year" at the League’s Denim & Diamonds gala next month. They are Karen Kosack of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. and Autism Society Hudson Valley; Nancy Daniele Miller of Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie and Cuneen-Hackett Arts Center; and Susan L. Moore of Dutchess County SPCA.
Event co-chair Jessica Glass said the league not only is committed to bettering the lives of women and girls, it also supports groups such as The Arc that improve their communities.
The Arc is there for a “population that’s often just forgotten about,” Glass said.
The things that impressed the league the most about The Arc were, Glass said, its mission of providing support for people of all ages, the breadth of its services and the fact so many of the people in leadership roles there are women.
“We couldn’t think of an organization more fitting to honor,” she added.
McCuin, who started out as a camp counselor for folks with developmental disabilities, said The Arc was launched in the 1970s by a group of special education teachers who knew there was “nothing out there” for their students once they graduated from high school and wanted to do something about it.
Now, more than 40 years later, the Arc serves close to 1,000 adults and children in a variety of ways, such as vocational training, residential support, physical therapy, psychological services and rehabilitation counseling.
There also is a day program, volunteer opportunities and social activities.
Services and programs have evolved along with the Arc’s demographics.
“More and more people are living well into retirement age,” McCuin said. “We have a number of folks who are quite elderly.”
The Arc is largely funded by state and federal Medicaid dollars, but it also does fundraising and gets some county assistance.
Just as its founders did, The Arc is looking to the future, McCuin said.
“Our whole system is changing in New York state, not just for our organization.”
With federal money, comes “a great deal of governmental regulation,” and The Arc is being told that its services must be “integrated,” she said, adding their definition of integration is somewhat different than the one we have been using.”
That will affect programs such as sheltered workshops where, McCuin said, individuals earn “a bit of a pay check” but aren’t “working elbow to elbow” with different people from the community.
“This is challenging us to find different ways to work with individuals so they can be out in the community and be productive,” she said.
One of the ways the Arc is doing more with less is sharing tech services with The ARC of Ulster-Greene and Putnam ARC.
“We don’t know exactly what everything’s going to look like, but we are confident we will be able to find something meaningful to do for the folks that will also make them happy.”
The league’s gala will take place from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at Locust Grove, a National Historic Site on Route 9 in the town of Poughkeepsie.
It will feature a tasting-style menu, beer, wine and music. Tickets are $100 per person.
“We will be wearing denim,” Glass said, “so it’s a bit different than your usual gala.”
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