I am fortunate today to share an abundance of promising news with The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming family about the careful and ongoing reopening of a number of agency services.
As our region of the state steers through Phase Four of the New York Forward Reopening Plan, there has yet to be a case of COVID-19 within our agency. We have been cautious in our practices, and fortunate in the outcomes. Individually and collectively, we have risen to countless challenges through shared strength of character, innovation, dedication, caring, and professionalism.
Enthusiasm is another characteristic that drives us personally and professionally through difficult times. As I write this, I am encouraged by the tremendous enthusiasm of the individuals we support and their families amidst our reopening strategy, which we have developed in accordance with requirements by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
“Enthusiastic” also describes the mood of our Arc staff. We are excited to reconnect with the dearly missed smiling faces that are now kept precious behind necessary face coverings. Masks, physical distancing, heightened disinfecting, and other precautions are part of the “new normal” that impacts every facet of our reopening process. Thank you to all program participants for your patience to ensure your health and safety, and the wellbeing of staff and the community at large.
A brief reopening update for a number of Arc programs and offerings:
• Last month, visitation resumed at Residential programs such as ours across the state, and today home visits are also occurring. Family members have at long last been able to bond in person with their loved ones, with certain restrictions. In-person visitation is a blessing that feels long-overdue!
• Work and day programs have been missed by many, who will be encouraged to know that Hilltop is beginning to open its doors, with precautions in place. Day programs are coming back, beginning with certain work programs. Please be patient; not everyone can return at the same time, so staff will contact program participants individually. Returning personnel will be excited to know that there is plenty of work, including large-scale cookie orders that need to be filled at the work center. For individuals who work in the community, Supported Employment is also coming back, including but not limited to janitorial and lawn crew jobs.
• Transportation, which is closely tied to Hilltop programs, has been carefully coordinated to ensure that only individuals who attend the same day program are transported together on a vehicle. Each individual must wear a mask, and will socially distance on the bus or van. Bus or van capacity is no more than 50 percent of the maximum capacity when the riders do not reside in the same home. Buses and van interiors are cleaned and disinfected after each trip.
• Finders Keepers thrift store has opened its doors to customers at 47 Main Street in Mount Morris, per New York State regulations. The shop is open Monday through Friday, 10am until 4pm. Please note that we are unable to accept new donations just yet; effective disinfection of our current inventory for the safety of customers and staff is our top priority.
• Hilltop Bottle & Can Return at 3 East State Street in Mount Morris is now open Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, and Saturdays, 9am-1pm, for customers to drop off or wait for their cash return. In fact, business has been booming!
• Hilltop Printshop is also open for business at 3 East State Street! Please note that we cannot let anyone other than staff inside the Printshop at this time. When a customer arrives, they should follow the instruction on the yellow “CURB SIDE PICKUP” signs. Also, we are not yet accepting cash; customers can place credit card orders by phone, or ask for a bill to be mailed.
• Hilltop Vending has also resumed operations, providing product vending solutions for area business and organizations.
• Self Direction is continuing in a manner that is mutually agreeable to the people supported, their families, and their self-hired staff.
• Of interest to those who anticipate our fundraising events, we have decided to postpone our 26th Annual “Friends Fore Life” Golf Tournament to Friday, September 11, 2020 at Livingston Country Club in Geneseo. Our golf tournament has always been our agency’s largest, most visible annual fundraiser; this year, it takes on much more significance as the only major fundraiser of 2020 that solely benefits The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming and the individuals we support. To register or sponsor online, visit http://www.lwarc.org/golf .
• Looking ahead a bit, KidStart is laying the groundwork for in-person special education services and Head Start in the fall. After careful consideration of all factors involved, the program made the decision to remain remote/virtual for the summer. This was a difficult decision to make, but it was in the best interest of students and staff. We worked closely with similar programs that are experiencing the same challenges and many of them have also decided to continue remote learning.
As with all of our decisions regarding reopening, we need to be creative to support as many people as we can, in the safest manner possible. To that point, I invite you to share your thoughts on how we can best support you and your loved ones during these unprecedented, fast changing times. You can contact me, or Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas, at (585) 658-2828. And please strengthen our local agency’s voice at the state and national levels by becoming a member, or renewing your membership, at http://lwarc.org/member/ .
Be well, be safe, and continue to be enthusiastic. We look forward to seeing you soon! As we have proven time and again throughout this pandemic, we accomplish great feats together – whether in person or remotely.
The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming