Unique Support Offered to Those with Differing Abilities this Holiday Season
Kimberly Austing, a vice president with M&T Bank lends a hand with holiday crafts during her group’s visit on December 4
This holiday season, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region (The Arc NCR) celebrates two Maryland staples, M&T Bank and the Aberdeen Ironbirds/Ripken Baseball for their support of the organization’s “Adopt-a-Home for the Holiday” program, where they provide holiday cheer and good tidings to individuals with differing abilities in community living homes throughout Harford County.
“Adopt-a-Home for the Holidays” began in 2016 and provides corporate volunteers the exceptional opportunity to connect and build relationships with supported individuals — many of whom have limited opportunities to celebrate the holidays. Once a company is matched with a home, they visit the residents and participate in a variety of holiday-related activities. From caroling and decorating Christmas trees to baking cookies, making festive crafts, throwing holiday parties and more, the activities that take place provide a great sense of warmth, happiness and excitement for the supported individuals.
Contrary to popular belief, these homes aren’t group homes. Rather, they are occupied by individuals who choose to live there but need varying levels of support from the organization. Staff at The Arc NCR are trained to work with individuals to help them achieve their personal goals and participate as active members of their community.
“What many don’t realize about those we serve is that oftentimes they do not have families outside of our organization,” says Shawn Kros, chief executive of The Arc NCR. “Our staff and the bonds built between roommates in their homes are often the strongest connections these individuals have, so when caring, compassionate visitors come to visit it means a lot to them — especially around the holidays,” she adds.
After years of sponsoring The Arc NCR’s programs and services, M&T Bank decided to take their involvement one step further by adopting a home for the holidays during the program’s inception in 2016. The bank now provides quarterly visits and activities to the residents of the home throughout the year, but the holidays are always a special time of cheer.
“M&T Bank is pleased to support The Arc NCR’s Adopt-a-Home program, which provides an opportunity for our employee volunteers to bring holiday cheer to some of our neighbors, many of whom don’t have families,” says Andy Guckert, a vice president with M&T Bank. Our employees enjoy building relationships and celebrating with the folks in the program, which is what the holidays are all about.”
The Aberdeen Ironbirds/Ripken Baseball have supported The Arc NCR since 2009 but have adopted a home through the holidays for the past two years. Visiting the same home has afforded staff the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with each of the residents; the household looks forward to their return each year.
“The entire Aberdeen Ironbirds/Ripken Baseball team is honored to once again share with others in celebrating The Arc NCR’s ‘Adopt a Home for the Holiday’ program,” says Diane Erickson, senior vice president of finance for the Aberdeen Ironbirds. “This unique opportunity is a rallying point for our staff; sharing dinner, gifts and holiday music with the residents we have become friends with is an excellent way to capture the spirit of the holiday season.”
Ripken Baseball’s Administration & Customer Care Manager, Lauren Morris with Roy, one of The Arc NCR’s supported individuals during the holidays in 2017
The Arc NCR is looking to expand the adoptions to allow for more than just working with residents during the holiday season, according to Kros. “As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach each year, there is always an abundance of groups and organizations looking to get involved and give back to their communities,” she says. “But people need support beyond the holidays, which means a full adoption of a home.”
A full adoption entails committing to the organization for a full year and coordinating with The Arc NCR to complete monthly or quarterly activities that contribute toward the organization’s goal of empowering people with differing abilities to live, work and thrive in the community. These activities can include game nights, gardening, watching movies and more.
“While support is welcome leading to the New Year, we aim to build lasting, meaningful relationships between our business community and those we serve,” Kros explains. “We’ve found that by increasing the commitment, the individuals we support are provided continuity throughout the year — something very important to them!”
About The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region
For sixty-five years, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region has empowered people with differing abilities to live, work and thrive in the community by providing support services and advocacy to adults and children and their families in Harford and Cecil Counties. For more information, call 410-836-7177 or visit www.arcncr.org.