Editor’s note: This is part of a series of columns from agencies served by Jackson County United Way.
The Arc of Jackson County is a non-profit organization offering support and resources to people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families.
Recently we were contacted by an adult in Jackson County who was losing her housing. Due to some temporary physical challenges, she was having difficulty managing her home. The Arc advocated with the landlord to allow us time to find assistance for the individual, and we immediately put her in touch with appropriate services.
Ultimately, the individual was allowed to stay in her home with appropriate supports. Following this crisis, the individual had surgery, and several of The Arc board members volunteered assistance with meals and transportation and more.
We provide social activities several times a year for individuals with disabilities and/or developmental disabilities and their families.
Such people often have co-morbid mental health issues, and Mental Health America Jackson County also offers social activities several times a year, as well, that serve this population.
Our organizations often are asked why socialization is so important. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many of these individuals face isolation and do not have many opportunities to socialize. This can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. The lack of socialization affects not only the individual, but also their caregiver and ultimately our community.
Studies have shown that having strong and varied social bonds are protective factors and can lead to increased productivity, happiness and a decreased risk of maltreatment. Socialization leads to a stronger community overall.
The Arc of Jackson County provides advocacy — a voice — for those in our community who need someone to speak for them. We make sure that when programs are implemented at the city, county or state level that considerations have been given to those with ID/DD and other disabilities.
We are governed by an all-volunteer board, and the 13 board members donate many hours to the community during the year, including the Day of Caring.
We receive funds from The Jackson County United Way. While this funding allows us to do minimal fundraising, our United Way offers other assistance, including board support and accountability and community collaboration. Their service is invaluable and allows us to focus on our mission, which is to see that individuals of all abilities thrive in Jackson County.
Kerry Bonney is president of Arc of Jackson County.