January 25 Is EITC Awareness Day

Friday, January 25, 2013 is the Seventh Annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day. Do you know if you are eligible for this important tax credit? The IRS is reaching out to underserved taxpayers such as people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make sure they are aware of the credit and how to claim it. The EITC can increase federal income tax refunds from $1 to more than $5,891, depending on individual circumstances which can include workers with disabilities and workers in non-traditional situations such as grandparents raising grandchildren. You can find out more about the Earned Income Tax Credit at EITC Central, a special website set up by the IRS.

Be a presenter at this year’s convention!

We are currently seeking proposals for innovative, motivating, and interactive presentations for our 2013 National Convention in Bellevue, Washington. Next year’s theme “Achieving Momentum” reflects The Arc’s continuing progress and forward movement. Each year, we are growing not only as an organization but as a grassroots movement working in communities across the country to promote our mission. Utilizing new technologies and innovative programs, we are extending our reach and more importantly making more of an impact.

The Arc encourages proposals that reflect our core values, involve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), family members, advocates and/or professionals, and/or provide opportunities for participants to walk away with a vision and concrete plan for action.

As we continue to achieve momentum in all we do as an organization, we have specific topics we want to discuss during next year’s convention:

  • Technology: Presentations/Sessions that introduce and/or educate individuals about how technology can improve the lives of individuals with I/DD by assisting them in school, work, recreational activities, and facilitate better inclusion in their communities either through assistive technology, online educational tools or better communications and operations systems for more effective delivery of services.
  • Family Support: Presentations/Sessions that demonstrate creative supports for family members as they work to help promote their loved ones’ full inclusion in the community. This can include community activities or groups, programs, community tools or online resources that can be utilized by family members to assist them with advocating for their family members, communicating with their family members and each other, planning for the future and accessing services and supports.
  • Chapter Innovations: Presentations/Sessions that demonstrate innovative programming or initiatives of chapters of The Arc or collaborations with community partners which are propelling the intellectual and developmental disability community forward, either by providing innovative avenues for inclusion, increased competitive employment, better and/or more efficient services and supports, or the development of innovative leadership, collaboration, fundraising/friend-raising, or operational activities that can serve as best practice examples for other nonprofit organizations.
  • Growing the Grassroots: Presentations/Sessions that demonstrate progressive and impactful advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the local, state, regional or national level through the development and mobilization of a strong grassroots advocacy community.

Please keep in mind that concurrent sessions will be held between August 2-4, 2013. As a presenter, you must be available on these dates. We encourage self-advocate participation in all sessions as participants and presenters. Submit your application using this form.

The deadline for submission of presentation ideas is February 1, 2013. Selection of presentations will take place on or about March 29, 2013. Please contact Laurie Edson, Director of Chapter Excellence: edson@thearc.org if you have any questions.

Generous Donor Offers Matching Gift

Donate Now!

Good news! A generous donor and long-time supporter of The Arc, Quincy Abbott, offered to match any donation you may make by the end of the year up to $2500. That means that we have an opportunity to double our impact on the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with your help! Know that any amount you give by December 31, 2012 will be matched dollar for dollar by this benefactor and that money will go toward fulfilling The Arc’s goals to promote and protect the rights of people with I/DD to live, learn, work and play as valued and contributing members of their communities. Every dollar counts – donate today!.

The Arc’s Statement on the Tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut

“On behalf of The Arc and the families we represent, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these children and their teachers in this horrific tragedy.  Our hearts are simply broken for the parents, loved ones, and the community of Newtown.

“There are so many questions surrounding this tragedy.  As more information comes to light, the media is reporting that the individual responsible for this violence may have Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.  As we struggle with this tragedy, it is important that the public is aware that people with autism spectrum disorders are not more likely than others to be violent.    This is a horrific event in our nation’s history, and as we mourn, we must come together as a nation to support this Connecticut community.”

Media inquiries can be sent to Kristen McKiernan, mckiernan@thearc.org

Do You Want to be a Presenter at Next Year’s Convention?

Did you have a great time at convention this year but leave wishing you could have participated in a bigger way? Well you are in luck because we are currently seeking proposals for innovative, motivating, and interactive presentations for our 2013 National Convention in Bellevue, Washington. Next year’s theme “Achieving Momentum” reflects The Arc’s continuing progress and forward movement. Each year, we are growing not only as an organization but as a grassroots movement working in communities across the country to promote our mission. Utilizing new technologies and innovative programs, we are extending our reach and more importantly making more of an impact.

Please keep in mind that concurrent sessions will be held between August 2-4, 2013. As a presenter, you must be available on these dates. We encourage self-advocate participation in all sessions as participants and presenters. Submit your application using this form.

The deadline for submission of presentation ideas is February 1, 2013. Selection of presentations will take place on or about March 29, 2013.

Meet Martha

Martha and Nancy Webster

Martha and Nancy Webster at The Arc’s National Convention and International Forum in October 2012.

We’d like you to meet Martha. Why? Because we just can’t get enough of her infectious smile and positive personality. Martha has an intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD), but thanks to the support she receives from her family and programs such as Medicaid and Social Security, her disability has never held her back. She enjoys baseball and bowling and lives independently in an apartment in Indiana with her friends. She thinks everyone with I/DD should have a chance to do the same.

“People should be able to live like I do,” Martha states confidently…with a smile.

Maybe you know someone like Martha….or like Nancy Webster, her concerned sister?  Nancy was recently elected president of the board of directors of The Arc, the nation’s largest community-based organization advocating for people with I/DD. But long before Nancy was a part of our movement, she was Martha’s sister.

Help raise $2,013 for 2013

Nancy recently told us: “Like many sisters, I worry that if Martha’s Medicaid lifeline is cut, her only option would be to live in an institution or somewhere else she doesn’t want to be, in order to receive the services she needs such as income support, help with her health care needs and the basic assistance she requires on a daily basis.”

The Arc has accomplished a lot during the past year in helping to protect the Medicaid lifeline that Martha depends on, but there is much more to do in 2013. Your support ensures that The Arc can continue to connect families to our national chapter network, influence public policy and improve systems of support and services to people with I/DD on a daily basis.

In the remaining few weeks of 2012, we have a modest goal: to raise 2013 for 2013. How the numbers add up is up to you. If you can spare $20.13, great! If you can donate $2,013, wow! Even if you can’t spare a dime but would like to stay connected on Facebook, you can help us get to 2,013 new fans by liking and sharing our page with your friends and family. Every little bit helps, not just for Martha but the more than 8 million Americans with I/DD and their families. Remember what Martha says, that everyone “should be able to live like I do!”

The Arc in Hurricane Sandy’s Path

In the last few days, all eyes have turned to Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of large portions of the U.S. East Coast. In the wake of the storm, affected areas will now begin to reassess, recover and rebuild.

We are reaching out to chapters in the 13 states most affected by the storm to find out how they and the people they serve fared. If you are with an affected chapter and need help, please contact Dee Dee Eberle, Director of Chapter Organizing and Advocacy, at Eberle@thearc.org or 202-534-3726. Or you can reach out via our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook and The Arc’s blog. Please use the hashtag #TheArcRelief for any storm-recovery related posts.

Those of us lucky enough to have escaped unharmed may be looking for ways to help chapters recover and rebuild to ensure that they can continue to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities especially in this time of need. We have activated The Arc’s Disaster Relief Fund, which allows us to take in donations from across the country, and quickly distribute them to chapters that need emergency resources to carry out their mission in the aftermath. If you would like to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families recover and rebuild chapter programs and offices, consider contributing to The Arc’s Disaster Relief Fund: Donate online now or simply send a check to The Arc’s national office at 1825 K Street NW, Suite 1200 Washington, D.C., addressed to The Arc Disaster Relief Fund. If you can’t make a monetary donation, we encourage you to monitor our social media channels to see if someone in your area posts a need which you might be able to fill directly. If you have non-cash resources that might be able to help a specific person or chapter, you can offer those to that individual or organization through our social media channels using the hashtag #TheArcRelief and be sure to post your location and how someone might respond to you. Keep in mind, The Arc CANNOT accept or distribute any non-cash donations.

As we learn more, we will keep you updated via our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, The Arc’s main blog, and our new chapter blog, wearethearc.org, which chapters across our network can use to keep current with each other.

An Inspiring and Invigorating National Convention and International Forum

This past Saturday evening, The Arc and Inclusion International wrapped up an inspiring and invigorating National Convention & International Forum. If you weren’t able to join us in Washington, D.C. for the event, here are some photos and a video to give you a taste of what you missed.

Participants from across the U.S. and more than 25 countries including the U.K., Germany, China, Cambodia, Israel, New Zealand, Malwai, Spain, Panama and Kenya came together to promote the concept of inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They discussed the tough issues, socialized and celebrated, and learned much from each other through informative sessions, meetings and fun events.

We heard from the former first lady of Panama who is a fierce advocate for people with I/DD along with Eve Hill from the U.S. Department of Justice speaking about her efforts to enforce laws which help people with I/DD live fuller lives in their communities with greater accessibility. Self-Advocate Ricardo Thornton and the chief of the UNICEF Disability Section shared their experiences with us and we were treated to a performance from the inclusive arts group, Artstream.

The Arc elected a new president of our Board of Directors, Nancy Webster, along with several new board members. And our out-going President, Mohan Mehra presented the President’s Award to Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue for his work in reducing the amount of time people with disabilities must wait to recieve benefits from his Administration. Also, we honored the amazing advocacy work of The Arc of Virginia and the efforts of Don and Laurie Istook of Istook’s Motorsports for helping create The Arc Audi Racing Program – a unique initiative to introduce professional race teams and fans and people with I/DD to each other.

We enjoyed a thought-provoking and entertaining The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival and we danced the night away with the National Hand Dance Association.

See all the highlights of The Arc and Inclusion International’s National Convention and International Forum in a video, produced by Jerry Smith of the Research & Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.

Please check this post later in the week and watch our Facebook page for more photos.

We thank everyone who helped make this year’s event such as success and we hope you will consider joining us in Bellevue, Washington (near Seattle) in 2013 for The Arc’s National Convention and International Forum.

Follow the 2012 National Convention and International Forum

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

Just like in years past, we’ll keep you up to date on the 2012 National Convention and International Forum in Washington, D.C. with social media and other online channels. If you can’t join us in person, don’t worry – there are many ways you can be a part of the Convention online:

  1. Follow this blog. We’ll post all the news and information coming out of convention each day, and try to post as many photos as we can. You can find the latest headlines from the blog right on our home page, in the bottom left-hand corner.
  2. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Each day, we’ll be posting real-time updates on our social media profiles as well, in addition to meatier updates here. On Twitter, you can use the hash tag, #AchieveInclusion, to follow the conversation centered around the event. If you’re at Convention, and tweeting, please join the discussion. Don’t forget to share your photos there too!
  3. Follow our new blog focused on chapter called We Are The Arc. We’ll post photos as we get them there.
  4. Use the Convention website. Our event website is still the best place to go for all the particulars, like the schedule, list of sponsors and exhibitors and more.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone this year!

The Arc in TIME Magazine – Pick it Up Today!

TIME Magazine coverThe Arc is featured in the October 15, 2012 issue of TIME Magazine – get it at newsstands now!  You, along with 19 million readers nationwide, will read about The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region’s success working with a local business to employ people with disabilities alongside people without disabilities.

Missed it? Don’t worry, we have it on our website! The feature is perfectly timed with National Disability Employment Month, which is October, and highlights The Arc’s national network of chapters!