Making The Arc a Name in Giving Back!

Scranton, Pennsylvania already has a claim to fame as the setting for the TV show “The Office.” Now, The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Scranton is getting its own name out to the public by collaborating in community events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and creating public service announcements.

The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) was awarded a MLK Day of Service* grant for 2017. The city of Scranton has long recognized Dr. King’s commitment to service through the Greater Scranton MLK Commission, which promotes Dr. King’s principles of non-violence, equity and love through education and service.

Every year, The Greater Scranton MLK Commission plans a full schedule of programs and special events that honor Dr. King’s life and legacy during the MLK Jr. holiday weekend. This year, The Arc of NEPA saw a fantastic opportunity to add to Dr. King’s vision for a more inclusive world and reached out to the commission to plan a food drive for families in need.

On January 16, 2017, The Arc of NEPA and the United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania co-led a food drive to benefit Angel’s Attic Food Bank. The food drive brought together participants from the United Neighborhood Centers and University of Scranton, volunteers from the Aktion Club, a community service group of adults with I/DD; and The Arc Responds, a group of employees from The Arc NEPA who raise funds to help people in the community.

After the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Aktion club members became part of the regular volunteer corps at Angel’s Attic Food Bank, sorting and delivering food two to three times each week. Their efforts were much appreciated in a community where hunger is a significant problem— nearly 22.1% of Scranton families live in poverty according to 2016 US Census data.

The Aktion Club is truly helping to make The Arc NEPA a name in giving back. To help spread the name further, the chapter has also created public service announcements for its NEPA Gives Back Campaign to show how people with I/DD and The Arc NEPA contributes to their neighborhood. One PSA features the Angel’s Attic volunteers and the good work they do in their community.

In time, we hope that The Arc of NEPA’s name will become as common in Scranton as “Dunder Mifflin.”

For more on inclusive volunteering and how disability organizations can build partnerships that serve community needs and strengthen The Arc’s presence in the community, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.

It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Have volunteer activities gotten stale? Donating and shelving canned goods at food pantries or making and delivering meals are fun and meaningful activities that work so well that we seldom think outside the (donation) box. However, the time is always right to put a twist on these old favorites and create a new instant classic, as The Arc of South Carolina did this past MLK Day.

PB&J CompetitionThe Arc of South Carolina was awarded a 2017 MLK Day of Service* grant to provide food to members of the local community in need. The chapter decided to focus its activities in Lexington and Richland Counties, which continue to suffer from a lack of access to food and high levels of poverty since a flood in 2015.

On the 2017 MLK Day of Service, The Arc of South Carolina and The University of South Carolina’s Best Buddies Program teamed up for a one-of-a-kind event: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making competition.

Volunteers had a great time making sandwiches and competing with one another. Volunteers who could make the fast PB&J sandwich or make the most sandwiches in 1- to 5-minute intervals won event t-shirts.

But just like the two flavors of peanut butter and jelly come together to make one great taste, the best part of this event was the result. After the competition ended, volunteers worked together to distribute sandwiches to homeless people in the area and to families who frequent a local food pantry that was closed for the day. Because MLK Day is a federal holiday, many local food pantries and soup kitchens are closed; so, these sandwiches helped feed people who may have otherwise gone hungry.

The whole day was a smashing success, proving that creativity and community service go together like PB&J. For more on inclusive volunteering and how disability organizations can build partnerships that serve community needs and strengthen The Arc’s presence in the community, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.

“Our Community Serves Each Other…”

There’s a reason for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous quote, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” Community service, especially inclusive community service, does so much more than benefit the person receiving it. Inclusive community service creates opportunities to build and strengthen connections among members of the community who might not otherwise meet and work together. This was the case for The Arc of Davidson County and Greater Nashville, which organized activities with Upsilon Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority and the Nashville IDD Housing Group.

In 2016, The Arc of Davidson County & Greater Nashville was awarded a MLK Day of Service* grant to provide food assistance to people in need in their community. The chapter reached out to Upsilon Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority to plan an event for the MLK Jr. holiday. AKA, famous for its members Toni Morrison and Star Jones, and fabulous for its pink and green colors, is the oldest Greek organization founded by black women.

Community service is an important value of AKA, and members of the sorority and The Arc of Davidson County and Greater Nashville teamed up to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy by volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in January 2017. All volunteers had a great time. AKA member Belva Weathersby shared, “as a volunteer it is important for me to make a difference, and to be able to see the difference I can make to someone’s life. By volunteering with The Arc Davidson County & Greater Nashville, I truly enjoyed my experience, and hope to volunteer again.”

The Arc of Davidson County and Greater Nashville continued volunteering in the spring, and reached out to the Nashville IDD Housing Group, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing to people with I/DD and students at Vanderbilt University’s School of Divinity. These residents live alongside one another in a supportive community. The chapter donated forty boxes of food to residents, who per Carolyn Naifeh, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Nashville IDD Housing Group, have food budgets as low as $30 each week.

Both The Arc of Davidson County and Greater Nashville’s experiences illustrate how The MLK Day of Service Project can act as a community web, weaving together members of AKA, Vanderbilt Divinity Students, and people with I/DD, who without the project might not have had reason to come together.

For more on inclusive volunteering and how disability organizations can build partnerships that serve community needs and strengthen The Arc’s presence in the community, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need. 

Building Partnerships to Serve…

The time is always right to do what is right. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Engaging in community service is a win-win scenario. For community organizations, volunteers with disabilities represent a group of eager and active people who want to help improve their community. For disability organizations, supporting inclusive volunteering serves our mission to promote the inclusion of people with I/DD, and helps people with disabilities gain confidence and participate in their communities. In addition to volunteering being the right thing to do, supporting community service also helps chapters of The Arc develop community partnerships that can advance The Arc’s mission.

In 2015 and 2016, The Arc of the Nature Coast in Hernando and Pasco counties, Florida, received MLK Day of Service* grants to provide food assistance to people in need in their community. To accomplish this mission, the chapter reached out to two groups often affected by lack of access to food: senior groups and youth groups. The result: two win-win scenarios.

 Serving Food and Building Friendships

Serving Food and Building FriendshipsThe Arc of Nature Coast partnered with Pasco Elderly Nutrition, which serves more than 800 senior citizens at three community centers in Pasco County through its Meals on Wheels program. To support this program, volunteers from The Arc Nature Coast deliver, prepare and serve food to people in need. More than this, volunteers have developed friendships with their fellow volunteers without disabilities as well as the senior citizens. In fact, after they volunteer, many volunteers with and without disabilities spend time playing cards and games at the senior centers.

Feeding the Hungry and Dancing the Night Away

Feeding the Hungry and Dancing the Night AwayThe Arc of Nature Coast partnered with the BETA Club from Fox Chapel Middle School in Spring Hill, Florida. The BETA club first got involved packaging produce for The Arc Nature Coast’s food delivery in January 2017. This club had such a good time that they began attending The Arc Nature Coast’s social events. BETA club members served food and drinks and helped clean up after events, and enjoyed dancing and socializing with people with I/DD. Recently, the BETA club received a national volunteer recognition award from the BETA National School of Merit for service with The Arc Nature Coast. To celebrate this awesome achievement, they invited The Arc of Nature Coast staff and people served by the chapter and their families to their dinner dance, and hired “PJ the DJ”, a local self-advocate, to provide the music for the evening.

Each partnership has been a win-win scenario for The Arc, the volunteers, and the partner organizations.

Per The Arc of Nature Coast’s Development Director, Nancy Stubbs, these volunteer programs and activities have led to social inclusion, friendships, and closer community connections for volunteers and between The Arc and partner organizations.

More than this, these opportunities have also raised the community’s awareness of the chapter. The Arc of Nature Coast has only recently expanded to Pasco County, Florida, and was “virtually unknown.”  Because of these partnerships and volunteer programs, The Arc of Nature Coast is making a name for itself and being known as a community leader and a server of people with I/DD in the area.

Congratulations to The Arc of Nature Coast for creating these great win-win scenarios! And, for more on inclusive volunteering and how to build partnerships that serve community needs and strengthen The Arc’s presence in the community, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.

What Does Giving Back Mean to You?

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to
serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace.
A soul generated by love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Inclusive volunteering programs give people with I/DD an opportunity that is special
and often rare—a way to give and not just receive community service.

Too often, people with disabilities are considered only to be the recipients rather than the givers of service. Thus, people with disabilities are not often given the opportunity to contribute to their community. By offering inclusive service opportunities, the MLK Day of Service project* gives people with disabilities the ability to give back, and counteracts this stereotype.

We asked volunteers at 2017 MLK Day of Service projects at The Arc of Luzerne County in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and at TARC in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to describe what serving others means to them.

Giving Others a Fresh Start

Volunteers with and without disabilities at The Arc of Luzerne County provided food assistance to people in need in their community through the Commission on Economic Opportunity, a local food bank. Volunteers worked to help gather, package, and distribute food to seniors, children, and families in need in Pennsylvania.

For Jay Sterling, a volunteer with The Arc of Luzerne, providing food assistance was an opportunity to help others overcome a struggle his family had growing up. “It’s important to help with the food prep [at my local food pantry] because when I was little we didn’t have much money like some families today. It feels terrible to grow up poor.”

For volunteer Diane Williams, helping people get the food they need is an opportunity to make sure children, do not go hungry. “It makes me happy that I am helping because I have two children, and I like to think that if children need food they’re getting it.”

Practicing Our Civic Duty

MLK VolunteeringIn February, volunteers with and without disabilities from TARC, the University of Tulsa’s True Blue Neighbors program, the Bridges Foundation, and A New Leaf came together to prepare meals for those in need in Oklahoma.

President of Tulsa People First Sean Lewis, who participated in the event, considers the importance of giving back to his community:

“I think it is very important as citizens and self-advocates that we show we care about the needs of people around us by getting outside our own routines and giving our time and energy to the Martin Luther King projects. Food supplied by the Tulsa Food Bank helps put food on the table for families that otherwise might have none. I was very happy to serve in whatever way I was able to such a good cause and project.”

For more on inclusive volunteering and how volunteering can help people fight stereotypes, practice their civic duty and give back to their community, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2016, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.

Volunteer Opportunities Lead to New Job Skills

Building a resume can be tough, particularly in rural communities where job opportunities may be limited, and competition can be fierce. However, serving your community can be one great and meaningful way to build job skills.

Since 2015, The Arc of the Glades in Belle Glade, Florida, has participated in The Arc’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project. The Arc’s MLK Jr. Day of Service project brings together chapters of The Arc to organize inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need.*

For Scot Kannel, The Arc of the Glades’ Executive Director, volunteering opportunities like the MLK Jr. Day of Service project have been important gateways to employment in West Palm Beach County because “volunteering builds skills, relationships and good will in the community, paving the way not just for that person’s future employment, but also [raising] community employers’ expectations [and changing their perspectives] about hiring those with differing abilities.”

Throughout the year, volunteers with and without disabilities from The Arc of the Glades work together to prepare and serve meals to people in need at a local soup kitchen and food pantry. While they are there, volunteers not only meet new community members and grow their social network, but also build their confidence with important job skills. Skills include both soft skills like customer service and working with co-workers as well as responsibilities specific to working at a food pantry.

The great thing about soft skills is that volunteers can take what they have learned and apply it in other areas of their life, including future employment. We hope that The Arc of the Glades volunteers do just that, and their experiences working in the soup kitchen and pantry help in all they wish to do in the future.

For others interested in volunteering and building job skills, the MLK Day of Service project, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.

Forging New Friendships through Community Service

Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Linda and Hannah at ACES

Linda and Hannah at ACES (from left to right)

Inclusive volunteering gives people with and without I/DD the opportunity to meet new people in the community while helping those in need. These new connections can lead to long-lasting friendships that impact not only community members being served by the volunteers but the volunteers themselves.

This past year, The Arc of Hanover in Ashland, Virginia, received a grant to work on The Arc’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service project.*

The Arc of Hanover’s Executive Director, Caroline Kistler, saw this grant as a key opportunity not only to serve people in need but also as an opportunity to help build friendships between young men and women of all abilities in the community. “Making friends with people different from yourself opens you up to new experiences, and allows you to see life from someone else’s perspective. As is true of all friendships, friendships among people with different abilities expand a person’s support system, and have a positive impact on a person’s life.”

Caroline recruited young adults with I/DD at The Arc of Hanover and students at Randolph-Macon University to volunteer at Ashland Christian Emergency Services (ACES), a local nonprofit that provides food, clothing, and aid to people in need in the community. Caroline paired volunteers with and without I/DD together so that people would be able to meet new people and learn from each other.

One pairing was Randolph-Macon University student Hannah Sommer and Linda George. While they were serving others, Hannah and Linda struck up a friendship. Hannah shared, “I always looked forward to spending time with her and the other students in the class. I was sad when the semester ended because I did not think I would get the opportunity to interact with the members of The Arc anymore.”

However, Hannah did have an opportunity to continue her connection with The Arc of Hanover as an intern the following semester. She appreciates that the internship “has allowed me to still keep in touch with Linda and the members of The Arc frequently, and has allowed me to learn so much about the disability community.” For Hannah, her relationship with Linda has been an important experience for her, and one that has been more meaningful because they met through service. “The relationships that are built and the friendships that are made through inclusive volunteering are like no other. Not only does the act of volunteering with a person with an intellectual or developmental disability benefit yourself and that individual, but together, you are working to benefit the lives of others.”

For Linda, befriending Hannah and volunteering with her has been important to her. “I liked working with Hannah and helping people. It was fun being able to volunteer with my friend. It feels good to be able to help people. I enjoyed being with Hannah.”

We hope that Linda and Hannah, and other volunteers paired through this program will continue their friendship, and continue serving their community! For people interested in learning more about The Arc’s MLK Day of Service Project, inclusive volunteering, and how volunteering can help people grow new relationships, visit http://www.thearc.org/inclusive-volunteering.

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.

Chapter Volunteers Reduce Food Insecurity Through Community Service

meals-on-wheels-volunteersBy Nancy Stubbs, Development Director, The Arc Nature Coast

On October 16th, we recognize World Food Day. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), 49 million people in the United States – including 16 million children, do not have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Providing food assistance is one way that communities can help improve all people’s access to healthy food. Through funding from CNCS, The Arc helps 10 chapters around the country organize service projects that aid community members in need.

Our chapters partnered with local service clubs and hunger-focused groups (e.g., community food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens) on events around the 2016 and 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, and throughout the year to provide food assistance to community members who experience food insecurity. In the first year of funding, our chapters have recruited 690 volunteers who have contributed over 5,360 hours of service to feed over 9,833 people in need.

One such chapter, The Arc Nature Coast in Brooksville, Florida, addressed their lack of access to nutritious food by delivering local produce to nearby food banks, which typically serve canned and/or processed foods. First, The Arc Nature Coast met with local farmers to learn what fresh fruits and vegetables were in season. Next, The Arc Nature Coast partnered with the farmers to distribute fresh produce to 235 recipients at four different food banks. Additionally, The Arc Nature Coast partnered with their local Meals-on-Wheels program to deliver meals to senior citizens on a weekly basis.

Both projects enabled individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities to work alongside farmers and volunteers. Feedback from volunteers with disabilities has been very positive, and suggests that participation had a positive effect on their self-esteem and feelings of inclusion. One volunteer stated, “They (recipients of Meals on Wheels) are counting on me to be there to bring them their food. They wouldn’t have food to eat if I didn’t help them.” Another added that, “it makes me feel good to help people.”

Chapters Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service and Improve Disability Inclusion Across America

Many of our chapters spent the past two months executing service projects made possible by a grant from The Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that leads national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

Many perceive people with disabilities as the ones in need of service – but in reality, they are often a part of civic engagement at the state, local, and national level. Chapters executed great projects, including food drives and food delivery events. Check out our new Facebook album or each chapter’s Facebook page below for highlights and pictures from each event. Thank you for participating in this wonderful opportunity with us!

  • TARC: Our local chapter in Tulsa, Oklahoma, kicked off their MLK Day of Service at a University of Tulsa basketball game. Volunteers with developmental disabilities from TARC worked with university students to accept canned food donation and transport food to the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. In February, volunteers from the chapter also packaged food at the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma; served meals at the Kendall Whittier Elementary School; and conducted a month-long food drive at the University of Tulsa and at the True Blue Neighbors office.
  • The Arc Big Bend: On February 15th, this Madison, Florida, chapter hosted a “free lunch” for 250 people who experience food insecurity at a local park. Volunteers with and without disabilities from the local Kiwanis club, Aktion Club, local health department, and nursing school hosted a variety of activities, including free health screenings, fire rescue demonstrations, and performances from a local boys choir.
  • The Arc of Greater Twin Cities: Our Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, chapter worked with Second Harvest Heartland Food Bank to deliver emergency food aid to at least 180 people in need. During the weekend before MLK Day, thrift stores operated by The Arc of Greater Twin Cities engaged volunteers to work at their thrift stores to collect canned food and sort clothing to be sold (the proceeds of which supported the work of The Arc of the Greater Twin Cities).
  • The Arc of the Glades: The Arc of The Glades in Belle Glade, Florida, began a joint adventure with The Church of The Harvest and Lighthouse Food Pantry to help provide food to those in need in our local community. As of February 10th, 40 volunteers with and without disabilities have given 385 hours of their time, served 2,468 meals, and distributed 5,686 bags of food to those in need.
  • The Arc of Luzerne County: Our chapter in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, partnered with the Wilkes Barre Kiwanis and Pittston Rotary Club to box food for over 150 low-income seniors at the Commission on Economic Opportunity,  a local community organization that serves people suffering from poverty on MLK Day. Since this initial event, volunteers with disabilities have been serving in the kitchen at the Commission on Economic Opportunity to help prepare 800-1000 lunches daily for low-income children in the area.
  • The Arc Nature Coast: Throughout February, volunteers with and without disabilities in Brooksville, Florida, delivered and distributed fresh fruits and veggies to nearly 300 families at four food banks in the community.
  • The Arc of the Midlands: Working with community partners, this South Carolina chapter fed close to 200 people at an event that included live music, a basketball scrimmage, and special guests including state representative Chip Huggins and Indianapolis Colts football player Kelcy Quarles.
  • The Arc of Virginia: On February 19th, volunteers and chapter staff assembled 230 meals for distribution to people in Richmond who experience food insecurity. This effort was supported by Virginia Delegate Kaye Kory, members of the Virginia General Assembly, and assembly staff.
  • The Arc of Walton County: The Arc of Walton County partnered with their local Anchor Club and The Matrix Community Outreach Center to provide food to those in need in northwest Florida.
  • Genesee Arc: This New York chapter supported volunteers with and without disabilities to conduct food drives throughout the month at twelve different community locations. The food collected was donated to 200 children in need at the United Way of Genesee County’s Backpack Program, which provides food to school-age children who experience food insecurity on the weekends.

The Arc Awarded National Grant to Engage in Martin Luther King Jr. National Service Day Activities

WASHINGTON, DC – The federal agency that leads national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), has selected The Arc and five other organizations as grantees to plan and execute volunteer projects that will unite Americans in service. The 2016 MLK Day of Service will take place on Monday, January 18, and The Arc, through select chapters, will be involved in service events throughout January where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) will volunteer alongside people without disabilities in an activity related to access to healthy food.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have so much to offer their communities, and this day of service opportunity provides them the chance to give back.  Many perceive people with disabilities as the ones in need of service – but in reality, they are often a part of civic engagement at the state, local, and national level.  Being a part of this national community service day will shine a spotlight on what people with disabilities offer in their community,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans participate in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, the nation’s largest day of civic engagement. In 1994, Congress designated MLK Day as the first and only federal holiday observed as a national day of service, and charged CNCS with leading this effort.

Each project will serve a community that has seen an increase in unemployment and the number of children living in poverty over the past 5 years. Food security, especially healthy food for children, is a concern for these communities. Each chapter of The Arc will partner with a local service club to carry out activities.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of more than 665 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.