70 Years: Much Accomplished, More to Achieve – Summer 2024

June 28, 2024

70 Years: Much Accomplished, More to Achieve

This year, Lifeworks celebrates its 70th anniversary as an organization and a chapter of The Arc.Reflecting on our history, we take pride in celebrating our accomplishments and recognizing the remarkable work done by our staff, families, and most importantly, the people we support.

We are looking forward to our 70th Jubilee event on September 12, 2024, at the Blue Hills Country Club. By now, most of you should have received a Save The Date card with initial details and a link to our website for more information. If you have not received the card, you can find the details on our website at www.lifeworksarc.org/70th-anniversary-celebration. This event will not only be a celebration but also a showcase of our programs and their impact.
Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase arts and crafts made by those we serve, enjoy a short program from our Theatre group, and learn about the impact of our Family Support, Autism Supports, Employment Supports, and Residential Supports.

In our first 20 years, when we were known as the South Norfolk Arc (SNCARC), a dynamic group of volunteers, primarily family members, laid the foundation of our agency. They organized volunteer camps, a pioneering Co-Ed Boy Scout Troop, family support groups, and many informal gatherings. This period also marked the beginning of our advocacy efforts alongside our partner Arc Chapters. Together, these groups achieved significant legislative and political victories, such as the Ricci decision, which led to the creation of the community residential system, and Chapter 766, which promoted equal education in public schools, fostering more inclusive education.

While our event will highlight our historical achievements, it will also set the stage for our future goals. We recognize the ongoing needs of the families and individuals we support, including residential opportunities, employment supports, program choices, and advocacy for more living options for those with significant needs. Our aim is to foster a community and culture of support for everyone we serve, including those who appear independent but still rely on organizations like ours for assistance.

Furthermore, we must continue to advocate for adequate funding and support for our staff. This will enable our dedicated team to view their roles as viable careers, allowing them to support their families and plan for retirement. Achieving stability for our staff translates to consistent and improved support for the people we serve and their families, which is our ultimate goal.

In the coming weeks, you will receive information about our upcoming events: the Sports Banquet in August, celebrating our sports programs; an event honoring the recipients of our Annual Scholarships for students pursuing education in our field; our Employment Services banquet, recognizing community achievements; and our Inspiring Possibilities Jubilee. We will reach out for ticket sales and support from families, companies, and friends to make these events successful. Your support is invaluable to our agency.

People often ask how we utilize funds from events like these. The answer is straightforward: we use these funds to meet the needs of the people we serve and their families. This includes emergency family funds for eviction prevention and food/clothing insecurity, private funds for emergency needs, and funding for our social/recreation programs, which receive no public support. This year, with the help of local families and their foundations and trusts, we are launching a new program to support our staff. The Emergency Grant program will provide short-term emergency funding for unanticipated life events, travel to home countries, and unfunded medical costs. This program, managed by our staff, aims to alleviate short-term stress for our essential service providers.

I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events. The joy of our past accomplishments inspires us to strive for a future with increased residential opportunities, more jobs, enhanced support through our Autism and Family Support Centers and Harbor Counseling, a return to day programs, and better wages and benefits for our staff. These efforts will lead to more opportunities and choices for the people we serve.

Thank you for your continued support of the over 2,400 people and their families served by Lifework.

Dan Burke