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Ahead of the Curve OCTOBER 2016

Upward and Onward Amid a flurry of on- going changes that seem have become a standard practice in the Managed Care system in North Carolina, The Arc of the Triangle has been busy investigating was to be more responsive to the individuals we serve and their families. In the past couple of years our organization has experienced increasing difficulty in securing and maintaining direct care employees. Even though our compensation has been equal to if not above other similar providers, securing direct care staff in a timely manner has been a real challenge and our turnover rate has been high. During the past several months our organization met with several North Carolina providers of disability services to determine alternative methods for securing and maintaining staff. The meetings were both reassuring and enlightening. One major theme with each provider was the fact that retaining direct care staff has been a challenge. Some organizations indicated that pay was a factor; others cited the intense nature of the job and the documentation requirements as major culprits in maintaining their workforce. Using a combination of ideas shared by other providers, a thorough review of suggestions gleaned through participant, family, and staff interviews, and many hours of work group discussion, our organization will be making several positive changes during the coming weeks. While additional details will be communicated at a later date, the result of these changes will: allow direct care staff to work additional hours, reduce the amount of time needed to secure new direct care staff, provide greater support to direct care staff, increase responsiveness to filling shifts when employee are absent, and encourage a partnership between families and staff in securing direct support staff. I will be providing additional information and updates about these changes, as well as other ways that we are working to improve our services in upcoming additions of this newsletter. Your feedback is always welcome, and I encourage you to share your concerns, experiences and suggestions with me. My email address is:

Robin Baker Executive Director

Inside this issue:

• Lifetime Achievement Awards • Board of Directors/ • SPOT’M July • Project SEE/SPOT’M AUgust • Annual Meeting and Arc Awards • Community Guide • Holiday Events

Board of Directors Dave Woody, President Karen Geringer, Vice President Laura Alden, Secretary Janet McLamb, Treasurer Michael Madden, Past President Laura Alden Todd Benware Needham Bryan Derek Elenbaas Shawn Fisk Emmy McLean Natalie Murr Josh Ravitch Christine Ryan


Robin Baker, Executive Director Duffy Palmer, Senior Director/General Counsel Lisa Maier, Quality Assurance Director Karen Warner, Human Resources Director Jennifer Pfaltzgraff, Marketing Director Individual Services: Michelle Merritt, Director Mike Kirschner Maranda Beckwith Ramona Castillo Seema Marshall Lukas Parkin Stephanie Smith Employment Services: Susan Swearingen, Director Barb Germiller Laura Guidry Steve Johnson Kathy Mayer Community Programs/Volunteers: Michelle Foy Susan Chandler Administrative Team: Shauna Leng, Finance Manager Marilyn Monroe, Data Specialist Lindsey Smith, HR Administrator Eileen Patrick, Recruiter Kenneth Kelty, Office Admin

Lifetime Achievement Awards Presented to Three Local Couples

A special part of our Annual Meeting and Arc Awards was celebrating six parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities from across the Triangle who have been instrumental in changing the way our community supports people with I/DD. Rud and Ann Turnbull have been professors, researchers, and advocates for individuals with disabilities, their families, and service providers for over four decades. Between them, they have authored over 40 books and over 500 articles and chapters. In 1999, they were selected by a consortium of seven professional and family associations in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities as two of 36 individuals who have “changed the course of history for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the 20th century.” Their greatest learning has come from their son, Jay Turnbull (1967-2009), whom they have always called their “best professor” about the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities over the lifespan. Rud and Ann met in 1973 when Rud was the President and Ann was a new member of The Arc of Orange County. Ann had just moved to Chapel Hill from Georgia where she was the President of The Arc in her community. Rud served on the Board of Directors of The Arc of the U.S. and as Secretary of the Board in 1981-1983. For two decades starting in 1996 and continuing until the present, he has been an active member of The Arc’s Rights and Advocacy Committee. He received The Arc’s National Leadership Award in 2004. His research dealt with public policy and professional ethics. Ann was a member of the Board of Directors of The Arc of the U.S. from 2006-2008. She received The Arc’s Outstanding Research Award in 2004. Ann was the principal researcher in the US and the world investigating the issue of family quality of life, including family support and family-professional partnerships. She has been the principal professional mentor of doctoral and post-doctoral students from Taiwan, South Korea, Mainland China, Turkey, Colombia, and Canada, always developing their skills to research and then serve families in their countries. Rud had this to say: “As we look back on our long careers, we count The Arc as our “family home.” It is where we always return when we have doubts about what to do. In those moments, and there have been many, we ask first, “What would our son want,” and then, ‘What would The Arc want?” Steve and Dixie Blackmon were unable to attend and will be presented their award at another event. Steve and Dixie Blackmon are from Raleigh. The Blackmon’s son Wesley is a current participant in both The M’n’M Singers, as well as our Supported Retirement program. The Blackmon’s became involved with The Arc of Wake County in the 1960s when they found out there were no educational opportunities for their son in Wake County Public Schools. They soon began advocating for their son and other children and partnered with the school system to create those needed classrooms. Steve served as president of the board of directors for The Arc of Wake County 1968-1969. Mr. Blackmon said this in an interview with the News and Observer in 1965: “The main responsibility is on the parents. The schools can’t do anything unless the parents let the problem be known.” And last but certainly not least, Joe and Colleen Kilsheimer have been advocates for the I/DD community for many years. They’re involvement with The Arc of Durham helped them to be excellent advocates for their son Stephen. As a social worker, Colleen understood from a professional level about advocating for services for people with developmental disabilities. But as a mother, her instincts made sure she and Joe did everything they could to make sure doors were open for their child. Colleen is a native of Shelby, NC, and graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and of the Richmond (Va.) School of Social Work. She worked full- time for seven years at Durham DSS in children’s services, primarily with children with disabilities in foster care. She and Joe also raised four other children and so gained a personal appreciation for the challenges that face families with children with disabilities, particularly as they grow up. She and her husband Joe, and Stephen himself, were always active participants in The Arc of Durham County. The Kilsheimers both serve on Alliance Behavioral Healthcare’s Consumer and Family Advisory Committee, as well as First in Families. The Triangle area, and country for that matter, owe a world of thanks to these three amazing couples and how they helped to make the world a better place.

Download our 2015-16 Annual Report

Or call 919-942-5119 x139 to have one mailed to you.

Meet our Board of Directors On September 24th at The Arc’s Annual Meeting our 2016-2017 board of directors was sworn in. President Dave Woody, Vice President Karen Geringer and Treasurer Janet McLamb remain on the Executive Committee and Laura Laden was welcomed as our new secretary. Four new directors joined the board. Derek Elenbaas is a Certified Public Accountant at Dixon Hughes Goodman in Raleigh. He audits not-for-profits, healthcare organizations, and manufacturing companies. Derek is a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Derek is the office champion for DHG Gives and volunteers as a greeter at his church, NewHope Church. Derek has been married to his wife, Callae, for 4 years. He joined The Arc of the Triangle’s Finance Committee in the spring of 2016. Derek is a passionate University of Michigan fan as well as the Detroit Lions, Tigers, and Pistons. Natalie Murr is a school psychologist and recent doctoral graduate from NCSU. She currently works as a postdoctoral fellow at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD), where she is responsible for providing assessment and intervention services for individuals with I/DD and their families. In addition to working directly with children and families, Natalie is also involved in multiple local and state-wide policy groups and initiatives focused on improving educational opportunity and access for children with disabilities. Although new to The Arc, Natalie has previously served on a board of directors for a youth-led non-profit organization as Vice President, assisting with staff recruitment, project development, and strategic planning. Since moving to the Triangle six years ago, Natalie has been searching for opportunities to again work with organizations within the community that provide necessary services to the local population. In submitting her applicaation to the board of The Arc, Natalie is looking forward to becoming more actively involved in community work and is eager to help promote The Arc’s general mission and cause.​ Josh Ravitch is a self-employed nonprofit consultant. He has almost 30 years of experience helping nonprofit agencies as both a volunteer and paid consultant. Josh has experience in strategic planning, organizational development, budgeting, marketing, and grant writing. He is the co-President of a local nonprofit with over 500 members, and Vice Chair of the Chapel Hill Human Services Advisory Board. He has also spent time volunteering for several local nonprofit agencies including The Arc, as well as helping care for his stepson who has autism. In recent efforts to help The Arc, Josh drafted two surveys sent to volunteers and client families, and consulted with staff and board leadership to help with organizational development. Josh is ready to help The Arc grow and thrive in both good and challenging times. As well, he can be depended on to provide meetings with many forms of chocolate. Christine Ryan is an attorney, a speech-language pathologist and a parent of a child with cerebral palsy. She currently works as a bureau chief for the NC Department of Labor, ensuring that employees are paid fairly for the work they perform. Inclusion is a focal point for her family. Christine served as a director for The Arc of Wake County for 2 years, assisting with fundraising and policy; and currently serves on the Triangle Literacy Council. She had this to say about The Arc: “I believe that the services provided by The Arc are essential to supporting people with I/DD and their families in the community. I have seen first hand the great things that The Arc has accomplished.” Christine looks forward to joining others in supporting The Arc of the Triangle’s mission on the board of directors. Directors Todd Benware, Emmy Boyette and Shawn Fisk remain on the board to finish out their two year terms. We thanked Secretary Lia McNeilly, Joel Williams, Prince Bull and John Caye for their service to The Arc of the Triangle. The board of directors is appreciative of its members who participated in this important election and are looking forward to serving The Arc of the Triangle, its participants, their families and members.

July Support Professionals of the Month

Marie Dionne has worked with us for almost 5 years. In those years she has worked with some participants and has worked the past 3 Summer Work & Wellness Programs as a Support Professional. This year our Summer Work & Wellness Program Coordinator, who was originally hired, had to step down from the position due to some unforeseen circumstances. The day she stepped down Mike Kirschner had contacted Marie as she was the logical choice, to me, to take over this position. She graciously stepped in at a very difficult point in the program. Since then Marie has been proactive and constantly looking for ways to improve the experience of the participants at the program. Families have come to me with appreciation that she is there coordinating the program. Her approach to what she does is thoughtful and passionate and always putting those we server first. Jill Skinner goes above and beyond to provide services for the participant and his family. She sets a standard with her participant that pushes him past his capabilities. He has gained much independence because of her dedication to him. The family has had some challenges that they felt were made bearable because they were able to depend on Jill. The family wrote a letter in support of my nomination of Support Professional of the Month (for service). She also has not had an unexcused late note.

Project SEE Allows Students to Shine by Clayton Williamson

Dressed in a Whole Foods apron, Louis walks across the sunny parking lot and collects shopping carts from various stalls. As soon as they’re returned to the store entrance, Louis is back on the move, looking for more stray carts or baskets wherever they may be. He is focused and persistent. Thanks to Project SEE, students like Louis are given the opportunity to grow into confident employees over the course of a summer. Project SEE is a six-week work placement program that puts students into a workplace alongside the guidance of a Project SEE work coach. Each student gains professional and social skills, such as how to work as part of a team or how to get ready for work in time for their daily shift. A typical Project SEE student works a 20-22 hour work week, Monday through Friday. In addition to earning a paycheck, students can also earn credit hours that go toward graduation. Warren, a 25-year veteran of job coaching with Project SEE, enjoys watching his students grow and expand their skill sets. “I give them a chance to be independent as much as possible. I give them space to work.” Most vocational rehabilitation work assessments only last three to four hours, an insufficient amount of time to truly gauge a student’s potential and strengths. But Project SEE lasts six weeks, providing job coaches with far more insight into a student’s abilities and work ethic. “When the novelty of having a new job wears off,” says Warren, “we get to see what each student is really made of.” The six-week duration also allows job coaches to better understand students and help focus their energies. At the beginning of this summer, job coach Warren noticed that Louis would grow distracted or bored with the structure of his day if he wasn’t kept busy. But as soon as Warren started motivating Louis to stay on the move and keep his eye open for loose shopping carts around the store, Louis developed into a diligent, reliable member of the Whole Foods team. Jenna, another Project SEE student-intern at Whole Foods, began the summer as a hard-working but quiet employee. But as she continued to grow comfortable in her role in the workplace, Jenna started greeting customers and engaging with her coworkers with a smile on her face. “Cashiers say they talk with her every break,” says Warren. Permanent job offers are often made to student-interns once their time with Project SEE is complete, says Susan Swearingen, leader of Project SEE. “Employers such as Whole Foods and SAS are always delighted to work with us. Our students become important parts of their team.” Susan has seen Project SEE become an incredible program for young adults with disabilities, and she hopes Project SEE will take on more student-interns and job coaches in the summers ahead. “This year we had 18 students,” she says, “and we’d love to have many more.” She’s working to ensure Project SEE can take on more student-interns for the near future, but they need more funding to hire job coaches like Warren. Project SEE is 100% funded by the Arc and its supporters. Susan and Warren beam with pride as they discuss various achievements made by Project SEE students. “Seeing a student’s face light up once things start to click,” says Warren, “that’s just the best.”

The Arc of the Triangle’s Annual Meeting & Celebration by Clayton Williamson On September 18, the Arc of the Triangle held its Annual Meeting & Arc Awards at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cary, and what a celebration it was! A warm, receptive crowd shared fellowship, heartwarming speeches and a pop song sing-along as everyone appreciated the achievements of The Arc of the Triangle over the past year. A combined effort of both Arc choirs The Grace Notes and The M’n’M Singers kicked off the celebration, performing ‘What A Wonderful World,’ ‘I’m a Believer,” and a couple of timeless hymns. They also led the audience in a sing-along of the Temptations’ classic ‘My Girl.’ The choir used American Sign Language to translate their lyrics during their performance of SONG. Following the music, The Arc of the Triangle’s President Dave Woody welcomed everyone, while Executive Director Robin Baker highlighted the accomplishments of The Arc and its staff over the past year. In addition to recognizing the work of all of our Support Professionals of the Month for 2015-2016, Sandra Logan was named Support Professional of the Year. Mr. Baker also hinted to The Arc’s upcoming year, focusing on growth, quality services and better employee retention. All things that will move The Arc of the Triangle to a successful 2016-2017. Next, Arc President Dave Woody and Secretary Lia McNeilly transitioned the celebration into a Business meeting. After recognizing Arc board members, Mr. Woody and Ms. McNeilly oversaw the election of new Board Directors. Following a brief voting process, those Board Directors were voted in to great applause. (See Board of Directors article.) And for the main event, Marketing Director Jennifer Pfaltzgraff presented the 2016 Arc Awards. Ms. Pfaltzgraff told story after story, telling the audience about wonderful caretakers, hard working students, and loving families that make up the Arc of the Triangle community. Some of the nominators took the stage and in their own emotional words, presented awards to individuals who change lives. Award winners took home a framed certificate and a floral arrangement custom-made by The Arc’s Petals with a Purpose program. Family and friends sat in the audience sharing in the well-deserved recognition that these fine individuals and agenices received. The 2016 Arc of the Triangle Meeting and Celebration was a joyful success, filled with friendship, rousing music, and moving stories. After all the awards had been given and all the songs had been sung, everyone left The Arc Celebration wearing a smile.

2016 Arc Awards

Distinguished Service Award Alan Rosen and Together On Center Stage LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS Dixie and Steve Blackmon Colleen and Joe Kilsheimer Ann & Rud Turnbull Professionals of the Year Casey Pacheco Susan Lombardo Teachers of the Year Kristin Burnette Michelle Hill Advocates of the Year Sam Dickinson Bonnie Gordon Employer of the Year HANDmeUPs Thrift Store StudentS of the Year Matthew McClellan Ishan Munshi Volunteers of the Year Panna Patel Sherry Anscher Sibling of the Year Mary Helen Garrett Direct Care Professional of the Year Tara Moore Community Partner Rashkis Elementary School/ Dr. Janice Croasmum SILVER ANNIVERSARY Warren McDowell, Project SEE Job Coach

Jeff Fleming - Hand Me Up Thrifts

Community Guide

by Stephanie Smith, Community Guide Community Guide is a service that helps connect people to the community. This may involve helping people get connected to social opportunities, finding volunteer opportunities, or finding other community resources that could benefit the person. The Arc of the Triangle decided to try to grow the Community Guide program in April of 2015. We started the program serving one person. We are now serving 36 people under Cardinal Innovations, and we have multiple referrals for Community Guide services. Below are just a few of the accomplishments individuals are making with the assistance of Community Guide services.


Chase was interested in living independently for a long time. This year Chase moved to a home that he rents along with a roommate. This is Chase’s first time living independently. In order for Chase to live independently he needed assistance with setting up several services and purchasing items to help him live more independently. Chase was also interested in finding activities in the community to participate in. When Chase first moved to his home, the Community Guide and Chase started working on getting transportation services set up. The Community Guide assisted him with accessing and using EZ Rider. We also started looking into resources to help him purchase a cell phone to use when he is in the community. We were able to get a cell phone and minutes for Chase using funding through First in Families. Chase was interested in volunteering and taking some classes. Chase started volunteering at Kidzu with the assistance of Community Guide. On Chase’s first day he received multiple compliments from parents and staff at Kidzu for his hard work and taking initiative. Chase and the Community Guide also started exploring classes for him to take, because Chase is very interested in music and the arts. We found a class through the Art Center that Chase is currently taking. Chase is enjoying the class, and he has mentioned possibly participating in other classes and activities through the Art Center. Chase’s next goal is to take guitar and voice classes. We are currently exploring guitar classes for Chase. Chase has also been able to get connected to Best Buddies through UNC. He recently attended his first Best Buddy event.


In the summer of 2015, the Community Guide connected with a music program called Push Play Sing to offer free music classes. Since Shanna loves music, the Community Guide assisted Shanna with getting connected to the Push Play Sing music group. Three music sessions have been offered. Shanna has attended all three of the music sessions, and she has developed a friendship with Max and Berk who teach the class. Shanna enjoys going to music class each week. She enjoys playing the instruments and having opportunities to socialize with others. Shanna is happiest on the days she knows she is going to music class. Shanna has also developed friendships with some of the other individuals who attend the class. Shanna recently had a birthday, and Max and Berk attended the party. Shanna was very surprised and all smiles when she saw Max and Berk at her party. Shanna’s mom said, “It is nice they offer the class for free. We do not know if we would be able to afford the class if it was not free. Shanna does not always open up to people, but she has really opened up to Max

and Berk. We were informed last year by her school that Shanna does not repeat things or try to imitate, but they see Shanna doing both of these things in the Push Play Music class.” The connections and friendships Shanna has made through Push Play Sing have been very meaningful to her. Not only does Shanna have a great music class to attend, but she also has new friends.


Ellen has wanted to own her own home for 30 years. Ellen is a fierce advocate for herself, and over the years she has connected with many organizations that may be able to assist her with seeing her dream come true. Unfortunately, Ellen’s income prevented her from owning a home. Several years ago Ellen and her boyfriend moved in together. With their combined income it became more of a reality that they may be able to own a home one day. Community Guide, Ellen, and other people on Ellen’s team started looking for housing resources to assist Ellen with purchasing a home. This past year Ellen learned that her apartment complex will no longer be accepting section 8 vouchers which she used to pay rent. It became more important than ever for Ellen to purchase a home. Around this time Community Home Trust found a home that meets Ellen’s needs and it appeared to be within Ellen and her boyfriend’s budget. There have been many steps Ellen and her boyfriend have had to take with the assistance of the Community Guide in order to purchase the home. A few of the steps are: meeting with Community Home Trust to discuss the process for purchasing the home, financial counseling, home owners training through Community Home Trust, meeting with her lawyer, and completing the paperwork for the loan. The Community Guide has been there to assist Ellen with all of the meetings and trainings she has had to attend. Along the way there have been some set-backs and times when we were not sure if it was all going to work out. Ellen’s closing date has been set for November. The Community Guide asked Ellen what it means to her to own her own home. Ellen stated, “I am ready to have this process over with and be able to move into my home. I will be able to change my carpet, paint, or do whatever I want to my home. I have not been able to do any of these things in my apartment. I am ready to have a home to be proud of.” Community Guide is one of the most valuable yet underutilized service options. As these success stories show, it can change people’s lives by assisting them achieve their dreams. This service is perfect for The Arc of the Triangle as it fits with all our other programs and services. Many of our programs and services give us exposure to the unmet needs and goals of those we supports. The resource and support that Community Guide provides is not typically a part of those programs and services. Community Guide fills this void. At this point, our service system only funds this service if a person has the NC Innovations Waiver or Medicaid within Cardinal Innovations area, primarily Orange County for us. We have asked to be allowed to provide this service within the Alliance Behavioral Health area so that we can reach the many people in Durham and Wake Counties who are not experiencing these Community Guide services success stories. If you have questions about Community Guide, please call our office at 919-942-5119.

Triangle Down Syndrome Network



present a holiday experience for kids with special needs and their families

Party &

It’s time to think about others...

PICS with Santa

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016 1:00 - 4:00 pm Good Shepherd Lutheran Church 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh

Photos with Santa - “Fast-Pass Style” Lines (spend time with your friends and family, not waiting in a line) Refreshments served • Activities for all abilities • DJ/Music

Drop in when you can This event is free

‘Tis the season... and everyone’s invited to The Arc of the Triangle’s

Holiday PartIES! Thursday, December 1st 6:30 - 9:00 pm Good Shepherd Lutheran Church 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh

Sunday, December 11th 2:00-5:00 Sheraton Hotel 1 Europa Drive, Chapel Hill

Performance by The Arc Choirs Refreshments served (Feel free to bring something to share!) DJ & Dancing

Do you belong to a club or church that offers a Giving Tree during the Holiday Season? Would you like a name or 2 yourself? Interested in adopting a whole famly? Gifts must be new, unwrapped, and valued at $50 919-832-2660 x 139 or

No RSVP necessary ThESE eventS ARE free!

The Arc of the Triangle October 2016 Newsletter  
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