Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States, paid a visit to The Arc Southern Maryland to see “what the world looks like at the local level where the real work is being done.” The Arc Southern Maryland is one of nearly 700 chapters of The Arc – a nonprofit organization which is present in 47 states – providing support and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
During Berns’ visit, he sat with employees and members of the leadership team at The Arc Southern Maryland. He spent time learning about the strides being made by the local chapter to create opportunities throughout Southern Maryland for people with various abilities to find employment, achieve academically, and to be included and valued for their unique abilities and strengths. Berns also toured the computer lab the chapter recently added, which has allowed them the opportunity to become a Tech Coaching center, teaching people with IDD how to use technology in all areas of their lives, from grocery shopping to the work environment, to every day social interactions.
During the latter part of his visit, Berns spoke during a meeting with The Arc Southern Maryland’s Board of Directors and leadership team about the organization’s goals and challenges. “In the immediate short term, we hope to prevent the new congress and administration from dismantling everything we’ve worked to build over the last 67 years,” Berns said. People receiving services from The Arc are being especially challenged by the impending healthcare changes, particularly those that threaten to cap and cut Medicaid, potentially removing $880 billion over the next eight years out of discretionary funds – of which of The Arc’s work is focused on the support provided to individuals in their daily lives,The Arc – both nationally and locally – continues to advocate for and educate the public on the impact public policy may have on people with IDD. “One of the unique things about The Arc, as opposed to other provider organizations, is that it really approaches things from a civil rights perspective,” said Berns.
While the visit from the national organization’s CEO was a treat to The Arc Southern Maryland, it’s not uncommon to find Berns visiting chapters all across the country. Berns said he enjoys visiting each of the individual chapters “that are – day in and day out – supporting individuals with disabilities to achieve their dreams.”
The Arc Southern Maryland is a non-profit organization affiliated at the state level with The Arc of Maryland and at the national level with The Arc of the United States, which is the world’s largest grass roots organization of, and for, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome,autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. Since 1975, The Arc Southern Maryland has provided quality support and programs aimed at creating opportunities for independence and personal success for people with different abilities in inclusive communities. For information about The Arc of Southern Maryland’s programs and services or to make a donation, visit www.arcsomd.org or call (410) 535-2413.