Spotlight Sunday: Northeast Arc & The Arc Tank

This December, we are going to showcase some wonderful agencies we have met or worked with in the past year. We hope you appreciate them as much as we do. And if you do, we'd love it if you would consider a year-end donation or volunteering for them in the upcoming year. 

We were hired to help Northeast Arc prepare their social media for the first year of The Arc Tank. Thanks to a donation from Steven P. Rosenthal to create The Changing Lives Fund, Northeast Arc was looking for ideas from agencies, companies, and individuals that would positively disrupt the system. 

Waiting for the presentations! 

Waiting for the presentations! 

We spent a day at The JFK Library, first meeting with the good folks at JFK, and then celebrating the inaugural celebration of the contest. They set up the program EXACTLY like The Shark Tank. A 5-person panel judged the live presentations and chose the final 3 organizations who were awarded a total of $200,000.

I was personally excited about all of the nominees but I was fascinated with one in particular.  The Center for Public Representation's entry was about disrupting the guardianship pipeline (spoiler alert, they won!) and I loved their entry and presentation.

People under guardianship experience a kind of “civil death” because they have no rights to make their own decisions about their health care, their finances, their relationships, and other day-to-day decisions. Further, guardianship can be isolating and exclusionary. People under guardianship are less likely to live in their own homes or apartments, less likely to have jobs in the community, and less likely to have friends. Yet, guardianship is often viewed as the only option for individuals with I/DD.
— From The Center For Public Representation Entry

My experience with this concept is related to the other side of transitioning guardianship. But I immediately understood the value of keeping one's personhood by having an interim legal definition of independence. Currently, if someone is unable to make ALL the decisions in their life, there is only the option to take guardianship. But what if the person could have a strong voice, coupled with a team of advisers who could outvote if NECESSARY? How wonderful would that be? A right to determine your own future but with a team of caring guides? 


While the proposal focused on 18 year olds with developmental disabilities transitioning to adulthood, having a guardianship pipeline, as I understand it, would also allow Alzheimer's and other patients to retain some rights in managing their lives. Things like, can you drive a car? The person gets a say in the matter, and when it comes time to take the keys, it is with their input. Perhaps an easier pill to swallow if you've simply been outvoted by your spouse, your daughter, your doctor and your beloved pastor. 

There were many other amazing entries but this one touched me personally on many levels. I am so happy that they won and look forward to seeing what they do!

The other two winners were also deserving and wonderful. UMASS Medical School was awarded funds for "Pathways to Inclusive Health Care" and the YMCA of the North Shore was awarded funds for "Y's Water Wise" program. You can read more about all three winners here

Steven P. Rosenthal of the  Changing Lives Fund  and JoAnn Simmons from  Northeast Arc  with the judges and the winners of the first  Arc Tank. Photo by Sean Goss

Steven P. Rosenthal of the Changing Lives Fund and JoAnn Simmons from Northeast Arc with the judges and the winners of the first Arc Tank.
Photo by Sean Goss

Steven P. Rosenthal and Jo-Ann Simmons congratulate one of the winners.  Photo by Sean Goss

Steven P. Rosenthal and Jo-Ann Simmons congratulate one of the winners.
Photo by Sean Goss

Northeast Arc changes lives for people with disabilities - and children at risk of developing them - and their families. They serve more than 9,000 people in 190 Massachusetts cities and towns each year. They are an amazing organization and we are so proud to be affiliated with them. 

Here are a few ways you can support them and the work they do:

  • Do some holiday shopping at Arc Works Art , a program that provides artistic opportunities to people with disabilities.
  • Grab a cup of coffee at Peabody's Breaking Grounds Café, which offers paid employment training and education to people with disabilities who want to gain employment in the food service, hospitality or customer service industries.
  • Follow them on Facebook to learn about ongoing events where your support is very much appreciated. 
  • Volunteer your time - one time or ongoing - and make a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities.
  • Donate directly to fund any of these or other wonderful programs including Black Box Theater, the First Steps Child Care Center, and more. 
Rebecca Ryan3 Comments