Arc hosts pic­nic, un­veils new tech cen­ter

Coach­ing cen­ter teaches life skills

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By SARAH FALLIN sfallin@somd­news.com Twit­ter:@CalRecSARAH

The Arc South­ern Mary­land gath­ered for a pic­nic re­sem­bling a big an­nual fam­ily re­union Sept. 27 to bring to­gether staff and con­sumers from all three South­ern Mary­land coun­ties for the 26th year run­ning. The fol­low­ing day, it show­cased its new­est fea­ture: the Tech­nol­ogy Coach­ing Cen­ter.

Held at Hal­low­ing Point Park in Prince Fred­er­ick, The Arc staff and con­sumers en­joyed a pic­nic with karaoke, games, in­flat­a­bles and, most of all, one an­other’s com­pany. The Arc South­ern Mary­land cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­de­pen­dence and suc­cess for peo­ple with dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties in in­clu­sive com­mu­ni­ties.

“It’s re­ally good be­cause you can see what’s go­ing on and you can see peo­ple do­ing bet­ter,” said Terry Long, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, of the pic­nic. Long added that The Arc has grown to be so large now that hav­ing the an­nual pic­nic is a great way to con­nect with peo­ple.

Ron Mould, di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity sup­ports, said he’s able to sit down and so­cial­ize with Arc con­sumers and find out more about their lives, in­clud­ing new jobs and hous­ing sit­u­a­tions.

Each year, the United Way part­ners with The Arc and vol­un­teers help run the pic­nic. Usu­ally, the event hap­pens dur­ing United Way of Calvert County’s Day of Car­ing, but the weather wasn’t con­ducive this year and it was resched­uled. Still, em­ploy­ees from county gov­ern­ment, South­ern Mary­land Elec­tric Coop- er­a­tive and oth­ers were able to get a day off to vol­un­teer for the pic­nic.

Sabrina Harbin works for Calvert County gov­ern­ment and has vol­un­teered at the pic­nic for two years now. Be­fore work­ing with the county, she was a fill-in re­cep­tion­ist at The Arc. Even though she didn’t work there very much, she’s im­pressed Arc con­sumers still re­mem­ber her at the pic­nic.

“It’s a fun day in the sun,” she said of the pic­nic.

Tech cen­ter pro­vides learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences

In part­ner­ship with Com­cast, The Arc now has a tech­nol­ogy cen­ter that pro­vides train­ing for its con­sumers on a va­ri­ety of life skills. As a re­sult of a $10,000 grant from Com­cast this year, The Arc pur­chased eight com­put­ers and other equip­ment to equip its con­sumers with money man­age­ment, ré­sumés and other skills.

“It’s wo­ven into the fab- ric of what we do,” said Brad Palazzo, di­rec­tor of ex­ter­nal af­fairs for the belt­way re­gion of Com­cast, re­gard­ing the Com­cast grant. On a na­tional level, Com­cast part­ners with The Arc.

Michelle Hack­ett, pub­lic re­la­tions and mar­ket­ing co­or­di­na­tor, said the cen­ter is used to teach Arc con­sumers how to use ATMs, write re­sumes, make a bud­get and track their spend­ing, cre­ate their own blogs, search for jobs and han­dle money in a cash reg­is­ter, as well as typ­ing skills, check writ­ing and more.

“The grant from Com­cast is what re­ally brought this lab to life,” Hack­ett said. The lab, lo­cated in Prince Fred­er­ick, has ex­tended to be a tri-county pro­gram and is one of the first Tech­nol­ogy Coach­ing Cen­ters in the coun­try.

On Thurs­day, The Arc gath­ered with Com­cast rep­re­sen­ta­tives to show how the cen­ter is be­ing used. Con­sumers shared their blogs, ré­sumés and more to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“I think it’s amaz­ing all the work you’ve done … you’ve taken it to the next level,” Palazzo said.

“Money skills is a big strug­gle we’ve seen,” said Tia Hol­land, vo­ca­tional sup­port pro­fes­sion­al­ist, as Tia Ma­son as­sisted Katie Wood with a money skills pro­gram that was teach­ing her how to make a with­drawal from a sav­ings ac­count at an ATM.

“This has been such a big as­set to The Arc,” Hol­land said.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY SARAH FALLIN

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Com­cast met with staff and con­sumers at The Arc South­ern Mary­land to learn how a $10,000 grant en­abled The Arc to cre­ate a tech­nol­ogy cen­ter to teach life skills.

Katie Large uses a typ­ing skills pro­gram at The Arc’s Tech­nol­ogy Coach­ing Cen­ter.

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