Explore Genesee ARC and Its Growing Trash and Recycling Business

A worker with Genesee ARC’s Trash and Recycling Center helps recycle e-waste.

Submitted by Shelley Falitico, Genesee ARC

Here at Genesee ARC, we have been in the trash and recycling business for nearly 30 years. In fact, we have been the exclusive provider of this service to residents of the city of Batavia since 1983. Batavia is our county seat and has a population over about 16,000 people.

Over the years, Genesee ARC has continually employed as many as 20 people with disabilities through this successful work program, and quality satisfaction surveys conducted over the last quarter century have consistently rated our service exceptional!

This has been a very busy and exciting time for the Genesee ARC Trash and Recycling Center as we have recently moved to a larger, more modern facility. The move coincides with increased marketing efforts to expand the amount of recyclables we collect, and the wonderful news that we are one of ten agencies in the nation to receive an eXplore eRecycling Grant from The Walmart Foundation and The Arc.

We began picking up and recycling e-waste since last year in order to prepare for an impending New York State law requiring e-recycling in our communities. Since the first of this year, we have collected several tons from City of Batavia residents. That’s a lot of televisions, scanners, monitors and keyboards that have NOT ended up in a landfill!

The eXplore eRecycling Grant will allow us to expand on this success and plans include offering an e-recycling drop off service to residents in each of our County’s thirteen towns and six villages. We are currently in the process of developing the E-Waste Apprentice position. In the weeks to come, we will be designing a marketing plan to help guide our eXplore eRecycling initiatives.

A New Day for Virginia

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia approved a settlement agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commonwealth concerning its system for providing services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  DOJ found that Virginia was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to give people the opportunity to live in the community.  Virginia will move many individuals out of training centers into the community, will provide services to some of the people on the waiting list, and will dramatically change the way Virginia provides services to individuals with I/DD.  To view the statement by The Arc of Virginia, you can download the statement via PDF.

Are You Coming to the National Convention & International Forum?

National Convention and International Forum, The Arc, Inclusion International: Achieving Inclusion

Have you made your plans yet to join The Arc and Inclusion International for the National Convention & International Forum October 25-28 in Washington, D.C? If not, make sure you sign up before early registration discounts end on September 3. You could save $50 to $100 if you register now!

Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue will be on hand to receive this year’s President’s Award. Commissioner Astrue is being honored for a steadfast commitment to people with disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, during his tenure at the Social Security Administration.  He helped reduce the average length of time applicants wait to receive Social Security disability benefits and helped develop and expand initiatives such as Compassionate Allowances and Quick Disability Determinations that seek to provide benefits quickly to applicants with the most severe disabilities.

Also we’re expecting notable advocates such as Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International and 100 speakers covering topics as diverse as aging and disability, transitioning from school to work, assistive technology and political participation. If you can’t attend the full four-day event, one-day registrations and special event tickets are available including or Wednesday pre-conferences on leadership and self-advocacy.

Check out the full program and register now. Hurry! Early registration discounts end September 3. We’ll see you there!

Your Help is Needed to Make the National Forum on Disability a Success

Find out more about how you can help make the National Forum on Disability Issues a success this election year. Read more about it in our Action Center.

The National Forum on Disability Issues is scheduled to take place on September 28, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Even if you do not live in Ohio, your support for this momentous event is important! Help us by reaching out to both candidates to request that they make disability related issues a priority and take part in this important Forum.

The Arc has joined more than 40 other national organizations in pledging our support as a co-sponsor of this event. Now we need you to help by reaching out to the candidates today.

Read more about it in our Action Center.

How The Arc – Los Angeles & Orange Counties Helps Employ People with Disabilities

By Kevin P. MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc – Los Angeles & Orange Counties

An employee at The Arc Los Angeles and Orange Counties new dollar store in the City of Long Beach, called Just-A-Buck, helps a customer check out.

It is an exciting time in Southern California for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD)!  On July 20, we celebrated the opening of a franchise to further our mission of employing people with I/DD. With an unemployment rate of 85% for people with developmental disabilities and state funding at a standstill for years – we decided to find a creative way to employ people with disabilities in our community.

Partnering with a New York based franchise called “Just-A-Buck” and with the assistance of a local benefactor we were able to make this dream come true.

The store employs 5 people with I/DD, each of them earning a salary at or above minimum wage, working alongside employees without disabilities. The employees participate in all aspects of making the store a success.  The new store will also provide an added bonus: to have people come into the store and see our workers and what they are capable of instead of their disability, you just can’t measure that! We believe that work gives everyone, especially those with disabilities, purpose and dignity and it helps them achieve independence and economic self-sufficiency.

To learn more about the store visit our website: www.thearclaoc.org. Also, if you live in the Los Angeles area stop by and visit us: 141 E. Willow Street in Long Beach at the Wrigley Shopping Center (Willow & Long Beach Boulevard).

The Arc Launches eXplore eRecycling Sustainability Efforts

Washington, DC – The Arc of the United States is launching its “eXplore eRecycling” initiative, funded by a $465,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. Through the initiative, 10 chapters of The Arc will be awarded funds to help develop or enhance electronic waste management programs that offer community-based employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

“The eXplore eRecycling initiative is a wonderful chance to show how individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can excel in cutting edge jobs while earning competitive salaries.  By bringing together the disability and the e-recycling communities, we hope to create more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Each sub-grantee will be awarded a grant to start or expand their electronic waste recycling program.  Throughout the program, sub-grantees will engage in peer learning and network with one another.  The peer learning aspect of this grant will allow sub-grantees to share expertise and knowledge regarding topics pertinent to e-recycling and employment with each other. They will also have the unique opportunity to interact with members of an Expert Advisory Committee made up of leaders from the e-recycling, environmental, disability, and business fields. These experts will provide their knowledge and perspectives to identify practice and policy recommendations that further electronic waste conservation efforts and competitive employment outcomes for people with I/DD.

Members of the Expert Advisory Committee work for a variety of organizations including: National Youth Leadership Network, University of Maine’s Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, Disability Rights New Jersey, University of Vermont-Center on Disability and Community Inclusion, Basel Action Network, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc., Good360, Arc Thrift Stores, National Center for Electronics Recycling, Northeast Recycling Center, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, and NISH.

The sub-grantees are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • AHRC Nassau – Long Island, NY
  • Genesee ARC – Batavia, NY
  • Kreider Services  – Dixon, IL
  • Seneca Cayuga ARC – Waterloo, NY
  • SouthStar Services – Chicago Heights, IL
  • The Arc of Clarion and Venango Counties – Clarion, PA
  • The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport – Haverhill, MA
  • The Arc of Hamilton County – Chattanooga, TN
  • The Arc of Madison County – Huntsville, AL
  • The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, Inc. – Hampton, VA

Celebrating Our Social Security System

“It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated, on signing the Social Security Act.

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Social Security Act, a law that makes a world of difference to millions of individuals with disabilities each day. While many see Social Security in dollars and cents we at The Arc know better. We know that Social Security provides a safety net for individuals with I/DD and their families. Today, our Social Security system includes retirement, disability, and survivors’ benefits. It’s more than just numbers, it’s people’s lives. But if you want to see the numbers that matter, here is a breakdown of what Social Security is doing for individuals with disabilities:

Over 11 million people with disabilities, their spouses, and children receive Social Security benefits. This includes:

  • Nearly 8 million disabled workers (this is the term used in the Social Security Act). To qualify they must have a severe disability that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  • Nearly 1.8 million children of disabled workers.
  • Over 930,000 disabled adult children. These individuals have a severe disability that began before age 22. They qualify when a parent becomes disabled, retires, or dies, and receive benefits from different parts of Social Security depending on their parent’s status. Many people with I/DD receive benefits under this category.
  • Nearly 240,000 disabled widow(er)s.

Social Security benefits are modest, averaging about $1,100 to $1,200 per month, but these benefits go a long way in reducing poverty among beneficiaries with disabilities and their families. More than half of disability insurance beneficiaries rely on Social Security for at least 75 percent of their income. The vast majority of them receive 90 percent or more of their income from these benefits. For families with a disabled worker, Social Security insurance provides about half of their income.

It’s also important to keep in mind that beneficiaries with disabilities are part of the larger Social Security system. Changes to the Social Security system will affect people with disabilities as much as anyone else.

The Arc strongly supports protecting and expanding the effectiveness of our Social Security system. Please join us in making sure this vital protection is there for people with I/DD and their families! For more information about Social Security, or to apply for benefits, visit http://www.ssa.gov.

Creating Awareness and Acceptance in Ohio

One of the most important steps to achieving full inclusion for individuals with disabilities is to ensure that children are included and accepted by their peers. The Arc of Summit and Portage Counties in Ohio has made it a priority to educate and sensitize children and community members toward people who have disabilities through a program called “People Together”.

People Together is an in-school disability awareness program that was started back in 1983 and is funded in part by the local Summit and Portage County Boards of Developmental Disabilities. The main goal of the program is to educate and sensitize students and community members toward people who have various disabilities in an effort to foster understanding, acceptance, communication, friendship and inclusion between people with and people without disabilities. The program has not only helped children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) be better understood and accepted by their peers, it has also helped students without disabilities to have a better understanding and openness toward people with disabilities. Teachers, parents and students have all benefited from this unique program.

One teacher shared a story about how after participating in People Together with her class, a student was comfortable enough to get up in front of his classmates and share that he had autism. He proceeded to explain what that meant, and how certain things are different or more difficult for him. Not only was the teacher amazed at the student’s level of comfort speaking to his peers, but also with how much his openness impacted everyone in the class.

Another teacher expressed how much of an impact the program had made on her entire class. As soon as the program ended, the calendar was filled with students who were eager to volunteer with the special education class in that school. There was no obligation for the students to volunteer; there was just a desire amongst the majority of them. The students who did not have disabilities spent their recess time reading and playing games with students who did.

To learn more about the People Together program contact Hope Carr at The Arc of Summit and Portage Counties.

The Arc Receives Award from Centers for Disease Control for Cutting Edge HealthMeet Project

Washington, DC – The Arc is excited to announce that it has been awarded a three year cooperative agreement through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to run a new project called HealthMeet.

HealthMeet aims to improve the health of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) through trainings for medical students and health professionals, community-based health assessments for individuals with ID, data collection and analysis including longitudinal health outcomes for people with ID, comprehensive information and referral, and a public awareness campaign. The project will use innovative strategies and cutting edge technology to help reduce some of the most serious health disparities people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face, and it will contribute to systems-change efforts in health care access.

“With cutting edge technology and a network of top notch partners, this project has the potential to uncover eye-opening information about the health of the millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in this country.  We are thrilled to be given this opportunity by the CDC to learn more about the health of this population and help change lives in the long run by informing policy and systems change at a national level,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

In addition to the CDC, The Arc is pleased to work with several of our chapters with expertise in the arena, including The Arc of San Francisco, The Arc of New Jersey, and Achieva, along with Therap, the Association on University Centers on Disabilities, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Autism Speaks, and the National Down Syndrome Congress.

Get More Out of the National Convention & International Forum

The Arc’s National Convention & International Forum October 25-28 will be filled with enlightening and informative sessions on such topics as what it means to live in the community, be a leader in the movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and creating change through advocacy. And, we’ll hear from heavy-weight speakers such as advocate Judy Heumann and Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International.

But it’s not all work and no play. If you’re joining us in Washington D.C. this year, come prepared for a weekend filled with fun in addition to the vital information you’ll gain during sessions and the valuable connections you’ll make with others in the intellectual and developmental disabilities community.

Don’t Miss

Red Hot on the Red Carpet! – This opening night event pairs the glamour of Hollywood with inspiring and thought provoking short films made for and about people with I/DD which will be screened during The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival. Plan to get dressed up and stroll the “red carpet” but be prepared for the paparazzi and autograph seekers! The red carpet festivities are open to all, but the film festival is a ticketed event. During the film festival, we’ll be giving away free DVD copies of “One Question” – a short film by Sprout which asks one important question to a group of individuals with disabilities. You’ll be inspired by their answers!

Meet New Friends from Across the GlobeInclusion International, a global federation of organizations advocating for people with I/DD is co-hosting this year’s event and we’re expecting many of their members from countries as diverse as Panama, Lebanon, Uganda and New Zealand. Make new friends and get an international perspective on the issues.

The Arc’s Annual Research Luncheon – Celebrate the international flavor imported by our event partners, Inclusion International, at a tartan-themed luncheon recognizing accomplishments in the research field.

The Market and Entrepreneur Alley – visit The Marketplace exhibit hall to discover unique micro businesses run by self-advocate entrepreneurs and purchase hand crafted art and other items created by people with I/DD.

The Marketplace Bookstore – browse through titles published by AAIDD and other sources on topics of interest to people with I/DD, their families and professionals in the field.

Rock the Night Hand Dancing Celebration – close out this year’s event with an evening of hand dancing, also known as “D.C. Swing.” Everyone can enjoy this traditional form of swing dancing that can be traced back to the 1920s.

Register Now and Save – Early Registration and Room Rates Available Until September 3!