The Power of Peer Support

“There is a certain power created when people of similar life experiences come together around shared issues and are able to support each other.” – Barbara Pandolfi, Peer Support Manager.

The notion of Peer Support is widely acknowledged as a legitimate form of support in our personal lives, as well as in many fields and disciplines. What distinguishes this form of support is that it is provided primarily by peers and mentors.

Here at The Arc, we focus on gifts and talents and look at the person not the impairment. The goal of peer support is to provide people with disabilities access to new and empowering opportunities which give them more choice and control over their life.

Peer Support is funded by the Department of Developmental Services and offers information for people with disabilities to share knowledge and experiences as well as emotional, social and practical help. It also provides a range of opportunities that amplify the voice of self-advocates and promotes more choice, control and responsibility in their lives.

Peer to peer mentorship challenges limiting beliefs often restricting people with disabilities from potential possibilities. It also provides psychological benefits such as increased self-confidence, improved problem solving, decision-making and coping skills. Moreover, it promotes independent and interdependent living skills, as well as information on self-determination and self-direction.

Arc Peer Support

We use the peer support model in several different formats. We have a Peer Support Advisory Committee where members are paid to provide guidance, recommendations, feedback and direction to the program as well as The Arc. This committee meets every other week.

Peer Support offers:

  • Paid internships to explore employment opportunities and other areas of interest
  • Education and mentorship on leadership, self-advocacy and getting involved in your community
  • Trainings to self-advocacy groups, programs and conferences
  • An annual celebration every June

As you can see, there is no single ingredient that guarantees success. Outcomes are largely determined by each person’s needs, wants, commitment, and vision. Peer Support can be an invaluable tool in guiding the way. It is important that people are known for their gifts and talents and what they can contribute to the community. For more information contact Barbara Pandolfi at 978-373-0552 x206.

To view pictures of our Annual Celebration this past June please click the following link to our Facebook: Peer Support Pictures.

Staff Post: Abigail Eaves, Director of Programs

Recently, we celebrated The Arc of GHN’s 55th Annual Candlelight Ball. Once again, staff, families and people receiving supports came together for a night of fun, laughter and good food. It was a pleasure to be around the energy of so many compassionate people. This year’s theme was Family, Friends and Community; a theme which captures the elements that makes this agency such a wonderful place to work and which are the bedrock of our mission. In particular, it is our sense of community that strikes me as the driving force behind our efforts and the relationships we build.

“It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to….the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility…and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives…”  Robert F. Kennedy

At The Arc we believe that community is not only where we live, and who we live with, but also a state of mind. Yes, we are here to collaborate with and support our neighbors, our local businesses and our local government; but it is more than that. Community is a sense of togetherness, a sense of belonging, a shared commitment to one another. To me, the Arc has a special spirit of community that celebrates our differences while embracing the common thread of humanity which ties us together. As a community, we are able to draw together to influence decision makers, to effect change and to show compassion and decency around us.

Arc Reach Pic

One of the most healing forces in our world is that of acceptance. It is feeling part of a community that captures that the most for me. As a community, we give each other permission to make mistakes, and to express our hurt, without fear of alienation. Allowing ourselves to feel part of a community can be scary. It can make us feel vulnerable and exposed. However, when we bring kindness and tolerance to each other, with time, trust develops and that vulnerability eases. When we allow ourselves to be a part of a community we grow and heal – from that stems an ability to share each other’s success and to celebrate our strengths.

At the Arc, I am overwhelmed at times by the transformation that community brings. Personally, I have lived it and professionally, I see it occurring with the people we support. When we see each other for the human souls we are and show kindness and understanding, we are accepting that life is a messy journey, unique to each of us but which, if we allow ourselves to lean in, can bring us to a place of contentment that can only stem from connectivity with those around us.

As our agency continues to evolve, it is my hope that we deepen our sense of community by finding more opportunities to connect with those around us with the goal of enriching the lives of our staff and those we support. I invite you all to find the moments in your life where you can connect and experience the joy that being part of a community can bring.

Abigail Eaves, MA, LMHC

Director of Programs

 

Welcome to Our Blog

The Torch

Like a torch illuminating the path, our blog, The Torch, sheds light on the voice and leadership of a person or group. At The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport we honor everyone’s voice; the voice of people with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who support them.  Everyone’s voice is important, and together, we are not only stronger, but also we can make what seemed impossible a reality. I look forward to the light that all our torches together will illuminate on the path we walk. This blog is intended to highlight these voices, these stories, and the burning spirit we share.

As the Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport, I am not alone in shedding this light. I am fortunate to be a team member of the 700 Chapters of The Arc nationwide.  Moreover, I feel honored to lead this Arc Chapter and be a part of The Arc movement. The Arc is the leading civil rights movement and largest advocacy & service organization for people with disabilities and their families in our nation.

Listening is at the core of my work and one of my personal priorities.  I am excited and dedicated to expanding the voice and possibilities of everyone.  I believe that as we all grow in our ability to listen better, hear more deeply, and allow for change, we will be well on our way to brightening the road of new opportunities and of inclusion. On our Mission and Vision webpage, visitors will see the picture where I pass the torch to one of our most successful clients, Joe Canto.

JoeCanto

The Passing of the Torch symbolizes our approach at The Arc: we believe in empowering people with disabilities and the self-advocates to speak up and to achieve their dreams.  Moreover, we believe in listening to their needs, and goals, as well as assisting them in developing custom tailored programming that will help them achieve those dreams.

With The Arc’s help, Joe received training in leadership, advocacy, and personal growth with the goal of embarking on a career as a professional advocate. Joe achieved his dream. Today, he works for the Human Rights Office of the Department of Developmental Services in Boston. As part of his job he gets to travel around the Commonwealth, advocating for people with developmental disabilities, and sharing his experiences.

Enrich your life today by joining us in bringing people with disabilities from the shadows into the light of inclusion!

— Luis Bachman, CEO