Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Client Advisory Committee: Helping Hands Get Things Done

CAC members vote on everyday Arc SF policies
The Arc San Francisco has a mission to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by promoting self-determination, dignity, and opportunities for our clients’ voices to be heard. Nowhere else have I seen this better exemplified than during the weekly Client Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings.

Every Friday, two staff members and a dozen or so clients come together to create a positive change in the community. In many ways, this committee is like any other: They sit around a long table, use Robert's Rules of Order, and follow an agenda of topics that each member contributed to. What astounded me, however, was the drive and insatiable urge these clients had to change the world.

The first meeting I ever attended sported a wide variety of topics and issues. The agenda touched on everything from local Arc policy to city, state, and even nation-wide politics. They voted to choose the destination of the next Arc field trip, and five minutes later began organizing a rally and letter signing event to advocate for affordable housing, and funding for organizations like The Arc SF.

“I really like the CAC,” said Mimi, a recent addition to the group. “We get to discuss things that are very important: how the city runs and the government, and issues like how to clean our environment and help the homeless. We get our own voice and opinions out, and we can actually make a real difference.”

Mimi could not have been more right. Not only have these clients made noticeable impacts on their communities, but they continue to develop their own leadership and communication skills. These clients are ready to face and better the world, and together they are unstoppable!
by Valerie Cripe, The Arc SF intern from Westmont College

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Experience as the New Arc SF Intern

San Francisco has long called adventurers, artists, and escapists to its beautiful hills and streets. When my college offered the opportunity to spend a semester here and gain some work experience, I jumped at the chance, ready to face the big city. There was no way I could have foreseen the impact it would have on my life and my perceptions of the people around me.

I joined The Arc SF as an intern in January 2016 and my experience continues to amaze me in new ways everyday. The clients are such incredible people, each with their own passions and stories to tell. I work with several of them in classes and creative writing sessions, and the highlight of my week has become sitting down with each of them to learn about their lives, their struggles, plans and dreams. My own ideas of what disability is and the limits it can impose have been shattered repeatedly by the drive and intelligence shown by the clients here at The Arc.

After working here a mere two months, I hardly notice the disability. It has been overwhelmed by the very human reality that they are people, more like me than I had originally thought. Had I continued to let their disabilities define them, I would never have come to befriend Mira the writer, Clinton the traveler, or Shaun the comic artist. I may never have known Joyanne the bowling champion, Miyuki the chef, or Clifford the entertainer. My world is more diverse and colourful, and I am grateful to say, this is only the beginning.

A tutoring and creative writing session in progress.