When I came on board as the new communications intern at The Arc, I was proud to be working for an organization that has so much love and support to offer adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Although most of my work happens behind a screen, I recently had the opportunity to experience first-hand what kind of impact we have on both our program participants as well as the wider community.
At around 8:15 AM on March 21st I went out with one of our Community Engagement Teams with the goal of delivering clean bedding to a local elementary school. I met one of our Direct Support Professionals (DSP) named Lindsey, and together we carried three large bags of bedding for pre-k students to our van, loading it all in before leaving to pick up our 3 program participants. The first stop was to get Taylor, a young woman with a passion for shopping and an abundance of fun topics to discuss. Then we went to get Janet, who was ecstatic to join us for the trip and who loved talking about her mother, who saw her off. Our final group member was Lizette, who was just finishing up taking care of her adorable dog. The van was full of life as everyone sprang into conversation, simply happy to be around friends.
We explained the plan for the day and everyone seemed pretty excited about helping the children with their bedding. I asked them about how much they enjoyed spending time together in the program and I got nothing but excited answers. It warmed my heart to be able to support these lovely ladies so they themselves could go out into the community and provide a helping hand.
When we arrived at the school to drop off the clean laundry everyone was quick to help carry the bags into the school. First, we greeted the ladies at the office and dropped the clothes off, trading the clean bags for three dirty bags and a bottle of detergent. After that, we stopped by The Arc to drop off all the bedding for them to be laundered before heading out to lunch. It was then that I had to leave so that I could head to class, but the experience left me feeling connected as I headed into the next portion of my day.
Seeing the smiles on the faces of our participants as well as how happy they were to spend time together while helping the community made me realize first-hand just how important programs like ours are.
Written by Maggie Smith, Communications Assistant and intern at The Arc of HR through JMU’s Federal Work Study Program