April 2, 2020
Since the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was issued, I’ve been reaching out to families and individuals we serve. I wanted to check in, ask how they’re doing, and reassure them that The Arc of Northern Virginia’s services would continue. Many wrote back, sharing what this “new normal” is like for their household. Some even asked about other families. With every note I read, I am reminded of the genuine honor it is to serve you all on behalf of our amazing organization.
I laid awake in bed last night thinking (because that’s what we all do now) about two sentiments that were common among many of the notes that were sent. Nearly every family is struggling to find alternatives to necessary, often critical, support services. With a loved-one with an intellectual or developmental disability, life in normal times is a precarious balance. The disability alone robs one of the stability many of us take for granted.
It’s like a game of Jenga, with many of the pieces missing to begin with. But this is no game. Life depends on that tower not falling over, and each wooden piece represents a critical support service. As long as the supports are in place, there’s fragile stability. Now… start removing those supports…
• Take away the piece that represents personal care attendants in the home, and you leave the work of caring for a family member with serious needs solely with the parents, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Parents are literally sleeping in shifts through the night.
• Take away the piece that represents stable housing, and you have a family moving out of their apartment to protect their immuno-compromised child, saying “Elevators are terrifying repositories for anything picked up by the 896 other residents.”
• Take away the piece that represents structured education, and you have distance learning plans from some school districts that have been delayed, or worse yet non-existent for students with disabilities.
• Take away the piece that represents physical therapy.
• Take away the piece that represents job coaching.
• Take away the piece that represents speech therapy.
• Take away the piece that represents occupational therapy.
Get the picture?
Why is The Arc of Northern Virginia so important? Why are we asking, pleading, with you to support our work? Because for many of these families, we’re the ones that can help them put back some of those pieces. We can locate the resources that help restore a feeling of balance for families in need. It may be precarious, it may be temporary, but it keeps the house from falling down. But we can only be there for those families if YOU are there for us in this time of crisis. Will you help us help families in need? Will you make a financial contribution today?
Will you help?
The second sentiment I heard in those notes is what finally allowed me to sleep last night. It’s a sense of hope. A sense of optimism borne out of the experience of facing previous tragedies and coming through them stronger and more resilient. “We’ll get through this” was said over and over again. And in my heart, I know we will. Because we’re in this together, and we draw strength from each other.
Families are stepping up to meet the challenges brought on by the crisis, whatever that may look like. The Arc of Northern Virginia, our amazing staff and our dedicated advocates, are going above and beyond to ensure our critical services continue. And our donors, our “Brigade of Heroes,” are finding the courage and compassion to give of their precious financial resources to guarantee those services continue.
If you have not yet contributed to our crisis response campaign, will you donate today? A gift of any size makes a difference. Large gifts are appreciated, but so are small, recurring monthly gifts, because both demonstrate your commitment to our mission.
Please make a gift to our Crisis Response Campaign Today
We must raise $50,000 now to sustain our vital work.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, sending us notes and videos, and for your encouragement and support. I am grateful for the opportunity to know and serve you all.
Please be well. Please stay positive. We’ll get through this together.
With a caring and grateful heart,
Rikki Epstein, Executive Director
The Arc of Northern Virginia
P.S.: Your donation also makes you a member of The Arc of Northern Virginia. Please help ensure our vital work for families continues during this crisis.
P.P.S: Here are just two of those notes I received from parents, quite possibly your neighbors, who rely on our critical programs and services. Messages like these are why your support is so important, and why we’re so dedicated to our mission.
“Thank you for reaching out. Our son’s group home has suspended visitations. We know it’s a necessary step. We may try FaceTime but he is nonverbal with impaired vision. We don’t know how he will react to hearing our voices, but we’ll give it a shot. Though I consider myself a man of faith, I have been leaning even more on it. My wife and I find comfort knowing that The Arc of Northern Virginia is there for us.”
“I am grateful for you beyond words for checking on us during this difficult time. We are being extra vigilant as I’m sure so many families are also doing. Blessed that my son’s employer is continuing to pay him while he is not working due to the shutdown. It is so awesome to know that The Arc of Northern Virginia has our back in case we need you guys. Each email from The Arc of Northern Virginia is an encouragement to us.”
For more information on supporting The Arc of Northern Virginia, please contact
Howard Stregack, Director of Development, at 703-208-1119 ext. 102 or email HStregack@TheArcofNoVA.org.
The Arc of Northern Virginia (Tax ID# 54-0675506)