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Becker Center for Advocacy

The Becker Center Advocacy Alliance By Julie Heffernan

Dan and Angela Becker worked hard to make sure that their son Mike, born with Down syndrome in 1965, would have a good life long after they had passed away. When he predeceased them, their legacy became a gift for our entire community: in 2014 The Arc of Massachusetts dedicated the Center for Advocacy in honor of the Becker family’s decades of work. In September 2017 a portion of that gift was used to hire two Advocacy Alliance Coordinators for The Arc – Herb Cabral and I – to work as liaisons between The Arc of Massachusetts’ central office in Waltham and its eighteen affiliates throughout the state. Herb and I have spent the last four months meeting executive directors, staff

How are we going to protect them in the future? By planning a legacy today! If The Arc of Massachusetts is already in your will, please let us know. Some people like to remain anonymous, while others prefer a bit of recognition. Either way, please let us know your intentions because it helps The Arc plan for the future. Contact Katrin Aback at 781-891-6270, ext. 105 or Aback@arcmass.org

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members, parents, and self-advocates from the various affiliates of The Arc of Massachusetts and spreading the word about the many policy initiatives The Arc has undertaken this year to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families. These initiatives address the need for community supports and services that foster social inclusion, self-determination, and equity across all aspects of society. As Becker Center Advocacy Alliance Coordinators, Herb and I have endeavored to share The Arc’s policy initiatives with the teams – made up of a staff member, a parent, and a self-advocate – we have assembled at each one of The Arc of Massachusetts affiliates, but that is only part of our job. To make The Arc’s advocacy as effective as possible, we need to collect your stories -- your experiences of parenting and supporting a family member with a disability, or of living with a disability yourself – so that we can share them with our legislators. As parent and educator Glenn Gabbard explains in “Family Experiences: Ways to Lead Change Through Telling Your Story” (1998), “Stories … reveal the details, the impact of systems on the daily lives of families and children … Stories often spur change in systems that seem impossible to understand.” There are many ways you can share your stories; for example, email us

at arcmass@arcmass.org or post on your Facebook page and allow us to re-post or reprint. For group training on story-telling for parents and/or self-advocates, your can invite Herb or me to assist. Of course, there are other ways to share your stories: invite your local politicians to a story-telling night, present your story during your local politician’s office hours or at a town hall meeting, share your story via email or a phone call with your state legislators, testify at the hearing for one of the proposed bills that is especially near and dear to your heart, or make plans to attend one of The Arc’s upcoming days at the State House: Supporting Families Day (February 13, 2018), The Arc and Massachusetts/Developmental Disabilities Council Day (March 7, 2018), and AFAM’s Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day (April 12, 2018). However you choose to do it, harness the power of the story to make disability-related issues both concrete and personal. Use your personal stories of disability as tools for advocacy (Carrie Glover and Courtney Taylor, “Kindred Stories of Disability: Sharing Personal Experiences to Impact Public Policy,” 2017). To see how a story can make a disability issue concrete and personal, read the article in this issue about Marc Grenier and his parents’ concerns about the announced cut in residential funding (One story among many).

The Arc of Massachusetts

Advocate Winter 2018  
Advocate Winter 2018