Q & A with Lorene Bass and Connie Helmer-Jordan

By David Podos

ARC of Herkimer officials talk about the agency’s work on behalf of those with disabilities

Q: Lorene: What are some of the main services that ARC of Herkimer provides?

A: We have a 24-hour care service for our residential programs. These are homes where our clients live. The facilities are spread out within our local Herkimer County communities. We also have a supportive apartment program where clients live. They receive staff support as well, but not as intensive as our 24-hour residential care program.

We also offer day programming and pre-vocational services for our clients through various integrative paid worksites throughout our community. On our career services side if any of our clients are looking for gainful employment — and this can be with our integrative worksites) but also any other worksites in our area which are seeking employees. We can assist our clients in their pursuit of gainful employment. Of course, this is just a sampling of what we offer. More information on other services and programs that we provide can be found on our website.

Q: Specifically, what is the demographic that you serve?

A: Overall it is people with developmental disabilities, and to a lesser degree, we offer mental health services to appropriate clients as well.

Q: Connie, recently your agency received a grant, where did the grant come from. How much did the agency receive and what was the money used for?

A: Well, first off, we are certainly fortunate to have been awarded this grant, which is from the Awards Committee of the Community Health Outreach Project, which is a grant funded program administered by Cerebral Palsy Associates of New York State Inc. The total amount was for $50,117.37.

Q: I am sure there are plenty of areas of need that the agency could apply this money to. Was it used for multiple projects or was there a certain project that needed to be addressed?

A: The idea of the grant was to find a need within our services that wasn’t funded in any other way. So, we used the money towards purchasing additional transfer lift equipment. Unfortunately, most transfer lift equipment that is required for our people with disabilities, there are no funding sources for it.

Q: Are we talking about lifts that are on transfer vehicles where a person in a wheelchair can be safely lifted into the car, bus, van, etc.?

A: While those lifts are very important, the grant money we received is being spent for lifts and similar safety equipment that are utilized in the houses where the clients live. For example, you have to have some kind of mechanical device to safely transfer a person from their wheelchair to the toilet or from the toilet into a shower chair and back into bed.

Q: I assume that this kind of equipment is expense, correct?

A: It is very expensive; another reason why we are so grateful to have been awarded this grant. Some equipment costs as much as $15,000.

Q: Will there be an opportunity for the agency to re-apply in hope that you can receive another grant to further help you purchase more of this kind of needed equipment for 2023?

A: Yes, we are planning on reapplying if the monies are available.

Q: Let me turn my attention back to you Lorene. How many employees do you currently have?

A: We have about 350 employees.

Q: What is your projected operational budget for 2023?

A: Around 28 million.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you and your staff this year?

A: I would have to say getting beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Getting back to providing services to every person who needs it, increasing our staffing levels back to where they were prior to the pandemic. We have an absolutely outstanding and dedicated staff who stepped up and put in the needed hours to make sure our clients had the care they needed and deserved during the pandemic. Of course, that kind of staff dedication has always been there before and after the pandemic.

ARC of Herkimer is located at 350 S. Washington St., Herkimer. It can be reached at- 315-574-7000. More information about the agency and the services they provide can be found at www.archerkimer.org