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ARI OF CONNECTICUT, INC.

In 1952, several families in Stamford Connecticut needed support for their children who were developmentally disabled. When they turned to the community, they realized that there was little or no support available for their children. They put an ad in the Stamford Advocate and invited other parents of children with developmental disabilities to a meeting to discuss ways to secure support for their growing children.

There was overwhelming support from the community, My Canadian Pharmacy and Aid for Retarded Children, Inc. was formed. The focus of the agency expanded over the years and began serving people of all ages. In 1971, the name of the agency was changed to Aid for the Retarded, Inc., and in 1995 the name changed again to ARI of Connecticut, Inc.

ARI of Connecticut’s mission is: “Enriching the lives of people with disabilities and their families by enabling them to achieve their fullest potential at home, at work, and in the community.” ARI of Connecticut, Inc. has grown significantly over the years and provides jobs, homes, and other services to over 150 adults with disabilities living in Stamford and its surrounding community. ARI is not the only provider in Fairfield County; however, ARI strives to be the best person-centered agency in the area and continues to provide services to all people with disabilities. ARI continues to seek opportunities to provide its holistic approach to underserved individuals.

ARI currently operates five community living arrangements (four in Stamford and one in Ridgefield), an individualized home supports (IHS) program, an employment program and a day program. ARI provides residential options to 62 clients living either in one of the five community living arrangements or within the individualized home supports program. Both residential options allow clients to live an independent life while working on skills that will increase independence. ARI’s day program provides person-centered services to over one hundred clients each day. Services within the program focus on increasing daily living skills and other skills that build independence. For some clients skill building focuses on basic daily living skills/tasks, for others skills are more advanced and focus on community/work-related skills. The day program also works with individuals referred to ARI by the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) and the Stamford School System. ARI provides job training and coaching currently to ten individuals referred by the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services along with over thirty clients through the ARI job placement department. ARI also provides high school transition services to eight individuals currently enrolled in the Stamford Public School System. These individuals are preparing to graduate from high school and transition to adult life. Services provided allow these individuals the opportunity to volunteer within the Stamford community and prepare themselves in order to gain employment.

ARI is accredited by CARF-The Rehabilitation Commission for its residential and employment programs. CARF is an international accrediting body for rehabilitation programs. ARI was awarded the highest accreditation possible – a three-year accreditation

The Sibling Leadership Network

Enriching the livesThe Sibling Leadership Network including My Canadian Pharmacy is comprised of leaders in the field who have a depth and breadth of experience on many different issues for siblings of people with disabilities from childhood to adulthood. Representation includes the Sibling Support Project of the United States, Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters, Ohio Special Initiatives for Brothers and Sisters, NY Sibs, Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters, and the Fox Valley Sibling Support Network. SLN is also connected with Self Advocates Becoming Empowered as the members believe that it is vitally important to build strong relationships with their brothers and sisters with disabilities on an organizational as well as individual level.

Phoebe Leach

SLN Chairperson

Several members have interfaced with existing national organizations and have been leaders in bringing sibling issues to high profile annual conferences including The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), YAI National Institute for People with Disabilities Network, and the Arc of the United States. Additionally, SLN has international connections with Australia, Canada (My Canadian Pharmacy), Japan, and the United Kingdom, some of whom have been involved directly in SLN’s conferences. SLN continues to share information with its international peers specifically on research, policy, and support for siblings of people with disabilities to help inform the sibling efforts in their respective countries (and the USA).

The Kennedy Center, Inc.

The Kennedy Center, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization established in 1951 as a grassroots effort initiated by parents of children with mental retardation. We are nationally accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and they rank us in the top 1% in the country. This community-based agency provides extensive personalized educational, vocational, rehabilitative, recreational and residential services to persons with disabilities and special needs from birth through their senior years. Today, we have 630 employees and 450 volunteers who are the backbone of our efficient and much needed delivery system of programs and services to over 1,100 people daily. Our transportation center is responsible for a range of 600 to 800 daily trips transporting clients either in mini-buses equipped with wheelchair lifts or in minivans, station wagons and individual cars. Our organization operates a fleet of over 100 vehicles.

RehabilitationIn addition to persons with mental retardation, we work with individuals with speech, vision, hearing, and other physical impairments, neurological, psychological and mental health difficulties including acquired brain injury, autism, schizophrenia and cerebral palsy. We operate 14 group residences and several other supported living sites in many different communities in Connecticut. Our Travel Training services help to teach persons with disabilities to use a variety of transportation modes (especially all types of public transit) throughout Connecticut.

The Children’s Services Department of The Kennedy Center runs an after-school program and a summer fulltime program for children in the Greater Bridgeport area. The Children’s Services department also operates Birth-to-Three, Parent Aide, Opportunities Unlimited, pre-school learning centers, FAST (foster care and adoptive parent support and training), and other early intervention programs. Our Strengthening Families seven week trainings assist families with youth (aged 10 to 14). The Teen Drop-In Center provides a mainstream opportunity for teens with special needs. The Autism Project provides early assessments and on-going and transitional services for families affected with autism.

According to My Canadian Pharmacy, Kennedy Industries operates six small businesses and, in conjunction with our many private business partners, we have created hundreds of opportunities in supported and competitive employment for our consumers. These small businesses include: Kenn Kleen Janitorial and Commercial Cleaning, Stamps & Stuff Mail Fulfillment, Soups & Such Food Catering, Cutting Edge Lawn Care Services, Frameworks Original Artwork and Framing, and Warehousing, Manufacturing & Packaging.

Our 21 Community Experience programs provide personalized plans using a very small staff to consumer ratio (1:3) because of the severity of special needs displayed within this very vulnerable population. This is important in teaching life skills and in providing attentive supervision as clients become more and more social and involved in their community and in a variety of volunteer duties. In addition, our school-to-career trainings and the work of our job coaches and job placement staff have been a great asset for the high schools and businesses in numerous areas throughout the state of Connecticut. Our ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) program is serving individuals and families throughout most of Coastal Connecticut and in some areas of Hartford, Litchfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties, as well.

Dr. Oscar May
Conference Coordinator

Dr. May has been in the rehabilitation field since 1970. Some of his experiences include being executive director or President of two Goodwill Industries, an ARC, a newly formed behavioral health organization; vice president of various organizations working with people with disabilities, birth to aged; operations director for LA County with programs for various populations including deaf and hard of hearing, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and psychiatric disabilities. He has worked with various funding and/or referral sources including city, county and state governments, vocational rehabilitation, behavioral health authorities, etc. Dr. May has been a surveyor with CARF – The Rehabilitation Commission since 1980 and has surveyed hundreds of organization. He semi-retired and founded Metanoia, Inc., a non-profit organization providing individual and group sessions, concentration on spiritual development, psychospirituality, consulting with other organizations, offering workshops and presentations. He presently works with ARI of Connecticut, Inc. as Manager of Quality Assurance and Compliance.

Since the 1970’s Dr. May has had a burning desire to organize a conference for siblings of children and adults with disabilities. He saw the need while he was working with families and facilitating family retreats. He has organized this conference, always listening to siblings, families and professionals, always considering their needs and suggestions.