Meet Kyle Burns

IMG_0272Kyle Burns is a 30 year old gentleman with autism in our Supported Employment Program, Archways Enterprises. Kyle is unique in many ways but what is most inspiring is that he was a published author and illustrator at the age of 23.

Kyle attended the League School of Greater Boston, a special needs school for students with autism spectrum disorders where he developed an interest in story writing. He has many talents including drawing and writing and has always had a vivid imagination so a Story Teller was born!

Following his graduation from the League School he headed off to Cape Cod Community College attending Project Forward, a vocational training program where he majored in Mass Communications. He has also taken a mainstream creative writing course to work on his writing skills.

His published book is called “Emily of Oz” which is a modern adaptation of the Wizard of Oz. Kyle put his own “spin” on it including replacing the ruby slippers with red sequined crocs and Toto became a Jack Russell Terrier not a Scotch Terrier. Kyle has also written modern adaptations of Jack in the Beanstalk and Alice in Wonderland.

Kyle also enjoys listening to music, especially the “oldies” from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s and is an expert on Beatle memorabilia and facts!

Kyle lives in Plymouth and has a studio apartment in his parents home. He also works at Kohl’s Department store in Plymouth and has volunteered at the Library and a senior assisted living facility. He also served on an Advisory Board in Plymouth on a project to curb underage alcohol use. He enjoys spending time with his family including his sister Erin and her husband Chris and his niece and nephew.

If you are interested in ordering Kyle’s book go to www.amazon.com or

www.barnes&noble.com

ADULT FAMILY CARE MAKES A DIFFERENCE

    ADULT FAMILY CARE MAKES A DIFFERENCE

The Massachusetts Council for Adult Foster Care (AFC) began a pilot program in the 1970’s to assist frail seniors in remaining in a home setting by matching them with a Caregiver. It operates on the fundamental belief that people have a right to remain at home in a community setting and has since expanded to include youth and adults with disabilities.

At that time, there were only a handful of member agencies contracted as providers to administer the program. It’s growth as a program was limited by several factors but perhaps the most difficult was the exclusion of family members as Caregivers. This requirement changed in 2007 allowing family members as Caregivers, provided they are not the legal guardian of the participant, and extending the eligibility to persons over the age of 16 with a need for assistance in prescribed Activities of Daily Living. This marked the beginning of major program growth. Referred to as Adult Family Care as well, AFC is a Mass Health funded program – referrals come via a variety of sources including but not limited to school systems, word of mouth and the Department of Developmental Services.

The AFC program has proven to be one of the most cost effective way of providing supports that keep families together and promote growth and meaningful community membership. People and families who have traditionally “fallen through the cracks” in other more restrictive and often more expensive service models have now been reached.

In 2010, The Arc of Greater Plymouth became an AFC provider agency. A service that began with one individual now serves over 100 people between the ages of 18 and 85, living in home settings in the community, with a mix of family and non-family Caregivers. The Arc provides interdisciplinary care via a team of nurses, social workers and case managers who develop thoughtful plans of care that meets each participant’s individual medical, physical, emotional, social and cultural needs. Other supports include ongoing training for Caregivers and safety inspections of the home.

Caregivers provide companionship, personal care assistance, supervision and community experiences for people who are aging and/or people with disabilities who need daily help to live in a traditional home setting in their community. Caregivers receive a daily stipend from The Arc of Greater Plymouth to provide care for people who might otherwise require institutional care. The program offers 14 days of respite care – with trained and vetted respite providers in the home, or in a certified Respite Caregiver home.

Mary is a 26 – year old woman with disabilities who lives with her parents. She is unable to live alone and requires support for her daily living needs. Mary’s Mom said “ The AFC program allows me to give Mary every opportunity available while I am still able to care for her at home. The case managers and nurses provide me with the latest health news, trainings, and vital information and help me resolve issues and problems that crop up. They also care so much for my daughter and it gives Mary other people in her life that care for her. I really don’t know what we would do without this support.”

Michael was living with his elderly mother in his family home.  As his mother grew older she began to experience significant physical challenges and it became clear that she was no longer able to support Michael on her own – it became necessary to move Michael into a new home as soon as possible. The Arc’s Family Support and AFC departments worked together to identify a family that was willing to provide AFC supports to Michael and to welcome him into their home.  Through the Adult Family Care program, Michael and his new Caregiver will continue to receive the supports they need to build successful, trusting relationships that will benefit Michael, his family and his Caregiver over time.

Potential funding cuts currently in discussion would significantly impact the quality of this critical program and thereby the quality of life of people like Mary and Michael, their families and their Caregivers.  Cutting administrative funding to agencies like the Arc will mean increased caseloads and fewer home visits and will impact vital trainings and enhanced medical oversight. For caregivers, this is not just a job it’s a life choice. A choice to mentor and support a person with disabilities or someone in fragile health in a nurturing family home; someone who might otherwise be forced into a more restrictive living situation or an institutional setting.

Laurie, a Caregiver for many years for an older gentleman describes the experience this way: “Edward became part of our family. My kids grew up with him and loved him without reservation and he in turn loved them. It was a help for us financially, allowed us to stay together and bring a new member into our family.”

Jim is his granddaughter’s Caregiver. Jim explains: “Michelle is non-verbal and sometimes that can be challenging when she is not feeling well as she cannot tell you what is wrong. To me it is a godsend to have a nurse and case manager from the AFC program that will visit our home and who I can call with any questions or concerns. They provide another ‘pair of eyes’ for my wife and I to ensure that we are doing everything possible for Michelle to thrive.”

The Arc of Greater Plymouth along with all our self- advocates, community sponsors and family members urge all stakeholders to carefully examine the proposed cuts to this essential program, to consider the stories of Mary, Michael, Edward, and Michelle and to join us in strongly advocating for legislative reversal of cuts scheduled to take place in March 2017.

Plymouth’s Life Skills Photography class

The Arc of Greater Plymouth’s Life Skills Photography class presented their Black & White Photographs at a Reception at the Plymouth Center for the Arts on August 17th. The photographs are a result of a 4 week photography class taught by Christine Belmonte, Project Growth Teacher from Plymouth North High school. The class visited nature settings including Worlds End in Hingham; North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield; Aptucxet Trading Post in Bourne and the Attleboro Springs Reflection Trail. The photograph show continues through August 29th.

Ambassadors of Autism and The Environment Pilot Program at Archways

In May of this year, Archways Autism support specialist Marylou Motyka secured a $4000 Grant form Makepeace, Inc. to conduct a pilot project for their Ambassadors of Autism and The Environment Program. Our own Joshua Hawes accepted the award on 6/13/16. Way to go Josh!  The A.D. Makepeace grant was written with the intent of giving our project members access to three important areas of concentration within the community setting as a volunteer group. These areas include open space conservation and preservation, organic farming and agriculture, and education regarding the preservation of the environment.  These individuals will be positioned to demonstrate their ability to be contributing members of society while naturally increasing autism awareness, paving the way to future volunteer and employment opportunities for themselves and others on the autism spectrum. The initiative will also expose the participants to the importance of conservation and preservation of open space, protecting wildlife and farming so that they can become passionate ambassadors of the environment.

To accomplish this goal a partnership was established with Southeast Wildlands Trust, Inc. where the team is maintaining two sustainable living garden beds at their headquarters on Long Pond Road in Plymouth, grooming a trail across from the headquarters and becoming stewards of their butterfly gardens where they are advocating for and helping accomplish a wheelchair ramp for greater accessibility, increasing inclusionary opportunities, visibility, awareness and contributions without barriers for the whole community.

Debbie D’Isabel, of Wildlands Trust, Inc. says “It has been a joy to work with everyone from The Arc and partner together.  Being outside in natural surroundings benefits everyone and Wildlands Trust is committed to facilitating those opportunities.  We are all impressed with the group’s green thumbs and have been cheering the success of their garden bed in the Trust’s new community garden at Davis-Douglas Farm.  We recently took a tour of a trail the ARC group will “adopt” by taking weekly walks and reporting on trail conditions to our Property Manager.  We look forward to continuing to work with Marylou and her wonderful group.

The project is ongoing through November 2016 and beyond. Team Leader is Josh Hawes and Assistant Team Leader is Joe McGovern. One of the group’s member, Jessica Stanley,  said of the project “ this is so cool!” along with Joe McGovern who stated “I like learning about plants”.

Who’s New at The Arc

We welcome Susan O’Shea to The Arc Staff at #52 Armstrong Road as  Director of Quality Assurance and Service Integrity. This is a new position for The Arc of Greater Plymouth.

Sue comes to us with 40 years of experience in developing organizational systems to not only monitor service quality and integrity but to improve the overall quality of supports and services delivered. Additionally, Sue has extensive experience in the design and delivery of training systems, providing clinical supports and Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS) and designing and implementing augmentative communication systems. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and is an adjunct faculty member at Antioch College in Keene, NH. She holds a M.A. in Special Education from the University of Connecticut and Education Specialist Certification in Behavioral Education from Simmons College .

Sue is an avid kite-flyer and loves photography. We are thrilled to welcome her to The Arc of Greater Plymouth.

Heartfelt thanks to all

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Heartfelt thanks to all who chose ornaments, donated and sponsored our Arc Giving Trees this year. We had a significant number of requests this year and your generosity helped make the holiday special for all. We were able to provide gifts for 82 families in the Greater Plymouth Area. Special thanks to our community partners, Toys for Tots, Cordage Commerce Center, Water Street Cafe, Vela Juice Bar, For Goodness Cakes, Macy’s Hanover and West Wood Village.