Latest update from CEO Dan Burke

September 27, 2020

To our Lifeworks Colleagues,

As we approach October 1st, our agencies Lifeworks and The Arc of South Norfolk are readying for our official merger.
We are grateful for the tremendous work done by so many people to make this happen- this includes our Business Office, Administrative Assistants, Program Leadership staff across both agencies, our Board of Directors and the staff who have worked on our Bigger Boat committee that has coordinated this process.

I thought it would be helpful to provide all of you with some quick bullets updating you on the Merger and where the agencies are as we get to October 1, 2020.

Our merger of The Arc of South Norfolk into Lifeworks will be official on October 1, 2020. At that time, our agency will be Lifeworks Inc. We will be an Affiliated Chapter of The Arc. Our 65-year history with The Arc, through our chapter status with the Arc of the U.S. and the Arc of Massachusetts will continue. We have released our new logo which is included above. We have also announced our new Mission Statement- ”Advocacy * Empowerment * Opportunity” and our Guiding Principles.

As a part of our merger, it is important for all staff, especially those from The Arc to remember that your current status as an employee continues- your current salary, your years of service, and your benefits. We are simply bringing back together two agencies that were at one time a single entity, which divided for the best interests of the people we serve, their families and staff in 1990, now are coming back together for the same reason- the best interests of the people we serve, their families and our staff.

As of September 20th, all Arc employees will begin entering their timesheets and payroll information with Lifeworks. A memo from Brenda Calder to all Arc employees sent on September 13th addressed this.

Lifeworks and The Arc are blessed to have a tremendous group of staff who are casual, on-call staff- these staff work on-call, as needed in our residences, our day programs, work for our Family Supports, Autism Supports divisions. We are also blessed to have our Harbor Counseling clinicians who work as Fee for Service staff working a schedule range. Each of you is highly important to our agency and for those who worked for The Arc, your status and position is as valuable as ever now that we are one agency. If you have not been working since Covid-19 set its foot down on all of us, I invite you to reach out to your program director and get a sense of the wonderful work happening in all parts of our agency. Our health and safety protocols have been an enormous success. We would love to hear from you.

On October 1st, our Boards of Directors will be uniting as one. In addition, our Human Rights Committees will be uniting as one, our Positive Behavioral Supports Committees and others. This merger will greatly increase our efficiency and effectiveness. Our Business Offices united as one in July and our Human Resources Departments have been united for over 3 years.

We have a team of staff from each agency, led by Susan Kagan our Director of Development who are putting together a new website which will be ready for initial launch on October 1st. We will be working with all levels of the agency to further develop this throughout October, including content development and photographs.

During the month of September, at the direction of the Commonwealth, we are working with all staff involved in our residential programs to get everyone tested for Covid-19. As of today, we have about 65 people including staff, relief staff, temp. agency staff, visiting nurses and hospice agency nurses to get tested out of over than 280 people. We conducted a walk-in testing with ProEMS in our parking lot here in Westwood. Great work done by all.

Furthermore, we now own over 200 test kits and our nurses are now able to take a sample and get testing results done in 36 hours for Covid-19 through the support of ProEMS.

We are pleased to further implement our organizational planning as a part of the merger. Stephanie Hajjar, the Director of Quality Assurance will be the Director of Q.A. for the entire new agency including former Arc-only programs. Courtney Hills will be the Behavioral Supports Specialist for our complete organization and Mike Fuller will be the Director of Operations and Transportation for all programs. Dan Homer will continue as Facilities Coordinator and will continue to be responsible for our building at 789 Clapboardtree St. as well as all of our Lifeworks residences and properties.

Sarah Charbonneau took over as the Vice President of all Lifeworks Day Services including the Day Habilitation programs in Westwood and West Roxbury as well as continuing to oversee our Employment Services and Life Enhancement programs in Norwood and West Roxbury.

Our day program re-openings continue to go well serving over 140 people weekly and continuing to grow at all four of our locations. The Day Habilitation and Life Enhancement programs have been providing ever-increasing virtual programming, through Zoom, Facetime, and conference calls to the people we serve for months.

Our Family Supports, Family Autism Center and Intensive Flexible Family Supports programs are working diligently on the Commonwealth’s contract renewal proposal format, their Request for Proposal for these services. This takes place every 10 years and we look forward to utilizing this process to highlight the many wonderful things that take place in all of these programs.

We are pleased that through this pandemic, our Lifeworks Residential programs and now our Employment and Day Hab programs are accepting new referrals to these programs. It is exciting to see people move into their new homes, to see people achieve new jobs after graduating from school and to watch people return to their original jobs.

Our Shared Living and AFC programs continue to accept referrals and provide services and supports through this pandemic. Lifeworks and The Arc have made great utilization of telehealth, including a full transition of the supports of Harbor Counseling to a Tele-health model through much of this crisis. We are proud of the work done by all and our ability to support the people we all serve through tele-health and virtual programming.

Finally, no review of our progress and programming can take place without paying a tribute to the heroes of this pandemic time. Our heroes are three groups in nature:

  • The persons we serve who have been incredible in their resilience, dedicated in working to keep themselves safe and remain concerned about their families, staff and co-workers.
  • The families of the persons we serve, the group that has been such an enormous support for their family members. Families have become full-time care providers, drivers, job coaches, zoom technicians, cooks, and performed home maintenance when necessary to accommodate the needs of their family members.
  • The staff who work for Lifeworks and The Arc. This group of amazingly dedicated staff have been working all day, every day since March 16th doing their jobs in different environments, in a different way, in a different location including at home and utilizing all forms of communication and access to support the people we serve. The determination and commitment of staff who worked at our homes when Covid was at its most active in our programs, the staff going into people’s homes, the staff who have been instrumental in re-opening day programs are admired by all of us and we are grateful for your work.

In closing, we hope all of you are staying healthy and safe. Please know that we are available to all of you and look forward to doing all we can to support each and every one of you.