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CQL

Our Success Stories

Change inspires us…Stories drive us….People define us.

Get to know some of the people on this page and hear their personal stories. They are examples of how we share our commitment to pursue fulfilled lives of meaning and dignity.


 

From Volunteer to Award-Winning Employee

Crystal started as a volunteer at Goodwill Industries in Croton-on-Hudson separating clothes and hanging them on a rack. Less than a year later, she became an employee and was soon arranging purses and shoes, answering phones and using the pricing gun. While these tasks may not seem challenging to the average person, Crystal is legally blind.

Having a job, friends and a meaningful role in her community were important goals Crystal; she didn’t want to feel restricted by her disability. She received her training at Arc of Westchester’s Mount Kisco Pre-vocational Program. The skills she learned combined with her natural enthusiasm and work ethic made her a valuable and popular employee.

Crystal’s self-confidence and overall happiness have soared since she began working at Goodwill. Her hours have increased from 15 to 30 per week, and she has formed friendships with her co-workers. If you ask anyone she works with, they will say her positive attitude and smile brightens their day.

Her hard work has not gone unnoticed. Arc of Westchester honored Crystal with the 2016 Anthony Cannata Memorial Employee Award for surpassing job expectations. She accepted the award recently at the 28th Annual Employer Recognition Breakfast in Tarrytown.

Crystal has made friends and grown to be an active member of her community, with the support of Arc of Westchester. 

Man's Best Friend

Everyone has fears, but overcoming those fears is what helps us grow and makes us stronger.

In 2015, Jane, a volunteer, and Luna, her therapy dog, began visiting Arc of Westchester’s Croton home every Tuesday. Nearly all of the residents quickly bonded with Luna; they played, cuddled and took her for long walks. Anna, a Croton home resident, had been terrified of dogs since she was young and refused to go near Luna. The staff at the Croton home understood her hesitation and respected her decision to not engage with the therapy dog.

As the weeks passed, however, Anna saw the joy on her housemates’ faces when Luna would visit. Luna is gentle, playful and friendly, and soon enough Anna became comfortable enough to interact with her. She now looks forward to their weekly visits and doesn’t fear Luna at all. 

Jane and Luna continue to visit each week. The people of the Croton home are inspired to go on walks together even when Luna isn’t visiting. They explore the community, talk to the new friends they’ve met and have a newfound appreciation for the parks of Croton. 

The nine people who live in that home are happy to call Jane and Luna their friends, especially Anna who has learned that she is stronger than she ever imagined.

The Arc of Arthur’s Mission

Arthur is a man with a mission. Since he began with Arc of Westchester in the early 1990s, he was determined to live independently, work in the community, have friends, a romantic relationship, and, most of all, be an active member of society.

Arc of Westchester has served as a support system for Arthur every step along the way.

Arthur’s journey began when he moved out of his parent’s house into an Arc of Westchester group home. This brought him some independence, but he wanted more. He understood that to live on his own, he would need a job. With the help of Arc of Westchester and his parents, Arthur found employment at a local business and created a budget he could manage himself. Soon after, he moved out of the group home and into his own apartment.      

To this day, Arthur still resides in the same apartment he obtained many years ago. He has a long-time girlfriend, Shelley, and has spent many years working in the community. Older now, Arthur has several medical issues that make living on his own more difficult—though not impossible. Like most people, Arthur hopes to age gracefully and live independently in his own home for as long as possible. Arc of Westchester continues to support him throughout the arc of his life.

Now, as he enters his golden years, Arthur has a new goal: to be involved in the orientation of new employees at Arc of Westchester. Every other month, he meets new hires to share with them his personal story and self-advocacy efforts. He provides insight and reflection on how someone with a disability has the same goals and yearning for independence that everyone else does.

Arthur’s story exemplifies the work of Arc of Westchester: Throughout every stage of a person’s life, Arc of Westchester is there to support them and their personal goals. 

A Happy Home, a Vibrant Life

A home is much more than just a roof over your head; it’s a place where you should feel content, safe and comfortable. Samantha, an outgoing, vivacious young woman came to Arc of Westchester last year in search of a new residence. Previously, she was receiving services from a different agency, but she felt she wasn’t being heard, understood or adequately supported. Ultimately, she wasn’t happy.

Samantha and her parents came to Arc of Westchester and found a home that appeared to be the right fit for Samantha. The only challenge, however, the only opening in the Arc’s Scarsdale residential home was on the second floor. Because of her needs, it was necessary for Samantha to have a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor. Arc of Westchester worked alongside the Hudson Valley DDSO to swiftly modify the Scarsdale home to build Samantha a room on the ground floor, while also adapting the backyard, living room and den to accommodate her wheelchair.

The team at the Scarsdale home didn’t stop there, however. They spent a lot of time talking with Samantha to learn about her likes and dreams. They made the effort to find out what she wanted in life so they could take steps to make her feel welcomed and valued. Samantha has been living in the Scarsdale residence since October 2015. In less than one year, she already feels comfortably settled in. She’s making friends with her housemates and with people in the community. She finds real joy in her hobbies and activities. It was her choice to find a new housing facility, and with Arc of Westchester she found not just a house, but a home.

 

Enjoying the Golden Years

Joseph is an elderly gentleman who has lived in a supportive apartment in Arc of Westchester’s Pelham Road residence for nearly a decade.

Recently, he made the decision to retire, but, as often happens to many retirees, Joseph found it difficult to fill all the new hours in his day. He continued to attend church and visit his local coffee shop, but he didn’t have any hobbies to fall back on and wasn’t socializing with friends. 

Joseph’s support staff at Arc of Westchester sat down with him to learn more about what he wanted from this next chapter of his life. Retirement is a time to pursue new dreams, they told him, and through a friendly chat, they asked him what his interests and goals were. That’s when they learned that Joseph loved to create art, especially drawing, and longed to be with people his own age.

The staff brought Joseph to a number of area senior centers that offered a variety of activities. He immediately was interested in the Hugh A. Doyle Senior Center, which was located close to his home. Soon after, he made an appointment to meet with the Center’s Administrator. They toured the facility together and discussed what it had to offer. In addition to arts and crafts, he learned that the Center provided belly dancing classes, yoga, haircuts, lunch trips and more.

Joseph decided he wanted to become a member of this senior center. First, he began participating in an arts and crafts class twice each week, and then joined an exercise group. He quickly made new friends and enjoys his meals with them every day at the Center. Joseph likes to get to the there early so he can assist in making the morning coffee.

Joseph is living a full life in retirement and is doing so on his own terms. He’s forged deep connections with others within the community while continuing to have the unwavering support of the Arc of Westchester staff.  

Promoting Dignity and Respect

Thomas is a friendly and sociable young man who has resided at the Arc of Westchester home on Borcher Avenue in Yonkers since July of 2013.  He gets along well with his housemates and staff, is very articulate, polite, gifted musically and enjoys playing the piano, which he has done at a number of different agency events.

In January of 2016, a new resident moved into the home and became Thomas’ roommate. It became apparent that the arrangement didn’t work out. The new resident had trouble respecting Thomas’ privacy and personal space, and generally made Thomas uncomfortable. Thomas wanted a change.

Thomas’ desire to have his own room and privacy was respected by his staff. To support his wishes, Arc of Westchester staff developed an alternative room configuration. This particular home has a very nice, large finished basement area which includes a television and some exercise equipment.  Staff arranged the space to create an additional single bedroom for the new roommate, thereby allowing both him and Thomas to each have their own private bedrooms.  Plenty of common area still remains in the basement area continues for the other residents to enjoy for recreational use.

This change has been a win-win both for Thomas and the new person.  The conflicts they experienced when they shared a room have virtually disappeared and everyone is getting along. Everyone deserves to have a place and opportunity to be by themselves and feel comfortable in their home. 

A Snapshot of My Day

 I live with two ladies and it can be stressful sometimes. We do take care of each other the best way we can. We have to have a fire drill in case of a real fire, so we know what to do and where to exit. When we have our shelter and tornado drills we make sure that we have a radio, a flashlight, and food. We wait in the hallway right in front of the bedrooms, but we make sure that the doors are close.

I love to cook and I love to eat. I learned how to make breakfast burritos, Caesar salad and Cobb salads, and tomato soup, french onion soup, broccoli and cheddar, and clam chowder soup, blue and red snapper fish, flounder fish, and steam fish, fry chicken wings, buffalo chicken wing, steak, king crab legs, and lobster tail with clarified butter. The dish I love to make is potato salad with fry chicken, and a turkey for thanksgiving.

I was only thirteen years old when my grandmother called me into the kitchen to help her with dinner for thanksgiving. Grandma gave me this big turkey that she had in freezer. I cleaned it and then I seasoned the big bird and then grandma placed the stuffing in the turkey and placed the turkey in a roast pan so it could cook and then grandma makes the rice and peas for the turkey. Mom makes the macaroni and cheese, and the macaroni salad, and my cousins makes vegetable, and the coleslaw, and fry chicken, curry chicken, curry goat, and jerk chicken and jerk pork. I make the best potato salad. We also had ham with pineapple on top and a whole lot more food.

I really love to bake cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and cakes but one thing you should know I just love to plant herbs, and vegetables. 

CQL is the Gold Standard in our Field

We are proud to have received accreditation for 4 years.

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