Notes

E-Newsletter Date: October 11, 2010

October 15 Crucial Deadline for Some Nonprofits

Some small nonprofit groups are at risk of losing their IRS tax-exempt status for failure to file required returns over the past three years. The IRS has offered a one-time extension for compliance which will end October 15. There is a special list of at-risk organizations and guidance on how to file the correct forms at www.irs.gov. October 15 is also the deadline for individual taxpayers who requested an extension for their 2009 tax returns.

People Magazine Features Flame

The rock band Flame, a group of musicians with developmental and physical disabilities, is featured in the current issue of People Magazine. Their debut CD will be released in December and available for sale at www.flametheband.com

October is Crime Prevention Month and the Go Direct campaign is encouraging federal benefit check recipients to switch to electronic payments to help reduce the risk of stolen checks, fraud and other financial crimes. Free materials and information are available at www.godirect.org.

Chapter Highlights

E-newsletter Issue Date: Thursday, August 19,  2010

The Arc of Virginia Convention

The Arc of Virginia celebrated its 55th anniversary at its state convention “A Life Like Yours:  The Journey Continues” from August 12-14 in Charlottesville, VA.

The robust program was packed with workshops and plenary sessions focusing on an array of topics, including Employment & Transition, Exploring Medicaid Waivers and Self-Care for the Caregiver. 

Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc inspired those gathered with his presentation “Awaken the Sleeping Giant,” focusing on the ambitious course of progress, innovation and change at The Arc on the national level.  

Other presenters included Paul Wehman, Ph.D, Professor and Director of the Rehabilitation Research & Training Center on Workplace Supports and Jill Egle, Nancy Mercer and Ken Henz from The Arc of Northern Virginia who addressed “A Life Like Yours Toastmasters” to support self-advocates in their public speaking efforts.

The Arc of Virginia’s convention was a success and provided an opportunity to learn, network and celebrate shared achievements.

The Arc of New Jersey’s Successful Advocacy to Change the r-word

Celine Fortin, Associate Executive Director of The Arc of New Jersey reports on the chapter’s key role in ensuring that New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie sign a bill into law that will change citations in state law and regulations to remove offensive references to people with disabilities.

This week, Gov. Christie signed a law removing offensive references to people with disabilities from state statutes and regulations. The bill eliminates outdated terms such as ‘mentally retarded’ and ‘feebleminded.’ Those terms will be replaced by the terms intellectual disability and developmental disability.

The new law also promotes "person-first" language; existing laws and regulations will be edited to reflect the change.

The chapter vigorously advocated the Governor’s office to secure the public signing on Tuesday led by Assistant Executive Director Liz Shea who heads up their Government Affairs activities.  In addition, the chapter created a special program called the NJ Self-Advocacy Project to organize self-advocates and prepare them for hearings, help them write letters to legislators asking for support and urging the Governor to sign the bill.

The Arc of New Jersey’s Executive Director Tom Baffuto organized a massive effort over the past eighteen months that included education, outreach, a rally attended by over 600 people and community education efforts.

“We felt it was really important that self-advocates be in the forefront for the campaign to end the R-Word, an issue of particular concern to them. They wanted to get the job done and we did all we could to make it happen. They worked really hard on this and deserve a ton of praise,” Fortin said.

Congratulations to The Arc of New Jersey on this victory!


Chapter Highlights

E-newsletter Issue Date: Tuesday, June 22,  2010

The Arc of San Francisco Applauds Mayor’s Office Employee

Timothy Hornbecker, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of San Francisco joins his chapter in congratulating Carmelite Buonaventura on her one-year anniversary as an employee in the Office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. 

California’s First Lady Maria Shriver made a special trip to celebrate with Carmelite, saying, “She is the first person with developmental disabilities to become a Mayor’s Office employee in all of California.  What an achievement!”

The Arc of South Carolina Fights Medicaid Cuts

Suzanne Yankowitz, Executive Director of The Arc of South Carolina reports that the chapter is hard at work advocating for families who have had a reduction in their services. 

The Arc of South Carolina also recently had several new families change service coordination to The Arc so we can help them advocate for their services. Several of our families who have adult children with intellectual disabilities and who have had their Personal Care Services reduced, were able to get an increase in respite hours in order to supplement their lost hours and ensure continuity of care,” Yankowitz said.

While we know the cuts for the future are a possibility, we will continue to advocate for families and continue the “out of the box” thinking to help families obtain services,” she said.

The Arc of Bay County Inducts Board Members

Sharolyn R. Meyer, Executive Director of The Arc of Bay County (Michigan) writes:  “At our June 7th meeting, we inducted our new board members willing to devote extra time to ensure that we, at The Arc, do our best for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  We appreciate their support.” 

The thirteen member board is led by President Bonnie LeFave. She has served the board in many capacities over the years, including contributing as a volunteer in The Arc of Bay County’s offices.


$40 million in Housing Vouchers for American with Disabilities

E-newsletter Issue Date: Wednesday April 28, 2010

The Department’s of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are targeting thousands of Americans with disabilities and have allocated $40 million to local housing agencies to assist 5,300 families. These agencies partnered earlier this month to allow rental assistance to support independent living for non-elderly persons with disabilities.

As part of President Obama’s Year of Community Living initiative, HHS and HUD are collaborating to provide housing support for non-elderly persons with disabilities to live productive independent lives in their communities rather than in institutional settings.

HUD is offering approximately $40 million to public housing authorities across the country to fund approximately 5,300 Housing Choice Vouchers for non-elderly persons with disabilities, allowing them to live independently. HHS will use its network of state Medicaid agencies and local human service organizations to link eligible individuals and their families to local housing agencies who will administer voucher distribution.

The Year of Community Living is an outgrowth of a 1999 Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., in which the court ruled that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unnecessarily institutionalizing a person with a disability who, with proper support, can live in the community can amount to discrimination. In its ruling, the Court said that institutionalization severely limits the person’s ability to interact with family and friends, to work and to make a life for him or herself.

As a result of the Olmstead ruling, HHS issued guidance to states on how to make their Medicaid programs more responsive to people living with disabilities who wish to reside in the least restrictive setting.