November / December, 2018
In this holiday season, thoughts often turn to the significance of family. Our family has a story not unlike those of other families that The Arc of Northern Virginia has helped.
My wife Karen and I are blessed to have two wonderful sons. Our youngest son Drew was born with the rare de Morsier syndrome. Early on, he exhibited severe intellectual and cognitive disabilities, a seizure disorder, and bilateral hearing loss. All of this manifested as self-injurious behaviors at a young age. Looking back – now – on those early days, I wish we would have known about The Arc of Northern Virginia back then.
Our son Drew did qualify for Early Intervention Services through Fairfax County and started in the program at the age of two. We understand what Early Intervention entails now. But back then? I wish that we had known about The Arc of Northern Virginia sooner.
While Drew did attend and received support in public schools, it was determined that a “higher level of services and supports” were necessary to address his exceptional needs. “Higher level services and support…” What does that even mean? It was as if the people helping Drew were speaking another language. I wish we would have known about The Arc of Northern Virginia then.
For 8 years, Drew needed to attend a residential school designed to address his complex needs. But it was in Langhorne, Pennsylvania—4 ½ hours away from our family home!
This is when The Arc of Northern Virginia came into our lives. Karen and I were faced with the challenging and daunting task of transitioning Drew to a community setting closer to home. We needed help in navigating the complex issues and identifying the limited resources available for our son. The Arc of Northern Virginia was so helpful in providing direction and guidance about what questions to ask and how to better advocate for Drew.
We are so glad that Drew is now in a supportive environment just a few miles from home. However, building and sustaining a team of medical specialists and services for him was exponentially more difficult. That time, we knew who to turn to: The Arc of Northern Virginia. They connected us with doctors who were considerate, knowledgeable, and experienced in caring for individuals with special needs. This organization has truly made the quality of our son’s life better. I just wish we had known about The Arc of Northern Virginia sooner.
My family saw firsthand how critical The Arc of Northern Virginia is, and I decided to join its Board of Directors. As I share our story with other families, I often hear the familiar statement directed back at me: “We love The Arc of Northern Virginia; we only wish we’d heard of them sooner.”
Surely, there must be some way to ensure that families connect with The Arc of Northern Virginia as soon as possible, so their child or loved one can benefit the most.
There are over 34,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages throughout Northern Virginia. Disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and rare chromosomal disorders. Each family that says “I just wish we had known about The Arc of Northern Virginia sooner” is one more family that is struggling when they don’t have to.
I know you also want them to find the answers they need at The Arc of Northern Virginia.
Will you help?
Your generous donation TODAY will help families find critical information and learn vital skills, such as:
• The importance of early intervention for improving childhood development.
• How to advocate for their child’s educational needs in the school systems.
• Discovering employment opportunities that match their interests and abilities.
• Identifying the housing option that offers the best environment for their loved one.
• The process for receiving government benefits for vital services and supports.
• The steps to secure a strong life-long future for their child as they grow older.
But we cannot do it without your help. You can make a difference for families in two ways:
- Spread the word – if you know a family or someone with an intellectual or developmental disability, ask them if they know about The Arc of Northern Virginia. Help them connect to our resources and expertise as soon as possible.
- Support our work – in order for The Arc of Northern Virginia to provide all of its resource materials, workshops, webinars, personal consultations, advocacy, family education, innovative independence tools, and more—at no cost to families—we need your support.
Please spread the word…and make a donation today! YOU can help us make sure that many other families get the help they need, WHEN they need it. Thank you!
Michael A. Thomas
Member, Board of Directors
Father of Drew and William
P.S.: Your donation also makes you a member of The Arc of Northern Virginia. This holiday season, please make a generous gift to help further our vital work for families.
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)