Posted on Monday, June 17, 2013
In a recent Finger Lakes Times guest essay, Ann Scheetz, executive director of Ontario ARC, expressed her appreciation for the connection between the Colleges and her organization.
She writes, "Ontario ARC is fortunate to have wonderful partnerships in our community. So many of our neighbors have embraced our agency and the people we support - through employment, volunteerism and involvement in our events and fundraisers."
In particular, the community at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has graciously helped opened doors for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities."
She goes on to note the Colleges host one of Ontario ARC's two College Experience programs, HWS students intern with Ontario ARC, and the people Ontario ARC serves intern at HWS offices.
"None of the above could be accomplished without the support and guidance of two of HWS' finest," she says, noting Assistant Professor of Education Mary Kelly and HWS President Mark D. Gearan.
The full article follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Building community partnerships - Ontario ARC enjoys relationship with Hobart and William Smith
Ann Scheetz • Guest Appearance • June 12, 2013
Ontario ARC is fortunate to have wonderful partnerships in our community. So many of our neighbors have embraced our agency and the people we support - through employment, volunteerism and involvement in our events and fundraisers.
In particular, the community at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has graciously helped opened doors for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is home to one of our two College Experience programs, where young adults with disabilities experience a collegiate atmosphere while preparing for the "working world" by building social and work skills. These young adults are fully assimilated into college life. They participate in extracurricular and student activities, such as the College Experience Outreach Club, which is comprised of college students and individuals from the Ontario ARC program. Together, they spearhead fundraisers for special causes, attend campus events and meet up for lunch in the Cellar Pub.
These experiences deeply enrich the lives of those supported by Ontario ARC. It guides them as they carve a new path for themselves, exploring personal interests and finding rewarding career opportunities. Nearly all the graduates are currently employed or in the process of finding jobs through Abbey Employment Services. The Colleges have generously opened their doors to internship and employment opportunities in their human resources department and food service areas.
And while we have made our home on campus, the student body at HWS has accepted us with open arms. Students intern at our program, putting their education to work and building relationships with the individuals who attend the College Experience. One young lady, Mimi Mahoney, developed an entire sports festival called Connecting Smiles that brought the student-athlete community together to teach individuals with disabilities different sports and encourage them to engage in an active lifestyle. Mimi will spend her summer with the agency in an internship in which she will assist with fundraising and events for Ontario Wellness Now, our new wellness initiative.
None of the above could be accomplished without the support and guidance of two of HWS' finest.
Assistant professor of education Mary Kelly is one of our biggest cheerleaders. She developed a college class created just for individuals at the College Experience program and select college students. Together, they work on a variety of projects and lessons. And in the end, they become more than just classmates - they become friends. She also spearheads The ARTS Experience - a two-week festival centering around the visual arts, music, movement and dance for people with disabilities, students and the community-at-large. ARC chapters from across the Finger Lakes region join forces with students, faculty and staff to make it bigger and better each year.
Mark Gearan, HWS president, is a consistent, strong supporter of all our agency's programs, initiatives and endeavors. He is a true believer in the work we do at Ontario ARC. He lends his expertise to the agency as a member of our Advisory Board, a non-governing panel of community and business leaders who help us develop and grow new ideas, programs and initiatives to support 900 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for Mark, his faculty, staff and students who have had a tremendous impact on our agency.
As we move forward in an uncertain environment where we face significant state budget challenges, community partnerships will remain vital to our agency and the people we support. We are thankful to the wonderful partnerships we have with the Colleges and hope it serves as an example to new ones we hope to establish in the future in our community.
Ann Scheetz is the executive director of Ontario ARC, a non-profit organization serving people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She has more than 25 years of experience in human services and has developed high-quality programs for people with disabilities. Under her leadership, Ontario ARC has developed innovative services such as the College Experience, Pet Connections and Project SEARCH. Ann and her husband Jeff live in Rushville with their three children, Zachary, Brian and Allison.