Towards the end of 2020, we began to hear a constant theme around a “return to normal.” And not just at Incompass Human Services; this was something we heard nearly every day in our interactions with others. As we head into 2023, I realize that at Incompass we have flipped this narrative – in that we have “returned to not normal!”
What I mean by that is adaptability is a way of life at Incompass! Essentially, we’re working towards a new normal that is rooted in empowering the people we serve to live their best lives. When we launched the Incompass brand in 2020, all the research we did at that time led us to a crystal clear vision…” innovating to help the most vulnerable thrive.” We’re living that now!
As the CEO of Incompass Human Services, and a member of The Arc of Massachusetts Board of Directors – I have put more focus on advocacy for appropriate rates and commensurate wages this year, and that’s a theme that will continue in the year ahead. From publishing op-eds to collaborating with other human services agencies on a public awareness campaign, we need to lead the way on this initiative. We must ensure that the state adequately funds Chapter 257, which allows us to effectively operate programs and to compensate staff with a respectable living wage. We count ourselves fortunate that our staff vacancies are lower than the average and longevity is a hallmark of our Care Champion culture, but we are still struggling under the circumstances of a post-pandemic, inflationary economy.
When people in the community ask me what we do at Incompass, I’m fond of giving a simple and honest answer. That “we are empowerers!” Incompass helps people live their best lives, and we will never lose sight of that mission. Doing this work is rewarding and fulfilling in ways that are almost immeasurable. We are proud to be part of the community of human service providers and grateful for those things that make us unique in that company. Regardless of the challenges and changes around us, you will always find Incompass opening doors with open hearts.
Earth Day is a special holiday in the Incompass Human Services community, not just because of what it represents to the planet – but it’s also the official kick-off of our gardening season!
This year, Earth Day fell on Friday, April 22 and Activities Specialist Cathy Brunelle once again put on a wonderful event! Day program participants at Incompass Human Services met outside of agency headquarters at 4 Omni Way in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, where Care Champions had setup stations with garden beds, flower pots, watering cans, and gardening tools. And this year was made even more special because a group of volunteers from the local BNI Global chapter!
“It’s been more than two years since we’ve been able to welcome members of the community to take part in an event like this, and the looks of joy on the faces of both the participants and volunteers said it all,” remarked Dan Esdale, chief marketing officer at Incompass.
Earth Day at Incompass is Really Earth Week!
As is tradition, each day hab room provided Care Champions with a list of seeds they wished to grow on Earth Day. And throughout the week, members of the Incompass community worked to prepare the garden beds and purchase soil so the group would have the tools they need to celebrate Earth Day right. Bianco’s Catering, who is also a tenant at 4 Omni Way, even got in on the fun providing individuals with the lettuce heads that were planted in the vegetable garden!
“We planted everything from onions to garlic to beans throughout the afternoon, and the weather could not have been better!,” said Brunelle.
Volunteers Had A Lot to Share About Their Experience…
For the volunteers from the BNI Power Players, it was their first time at Incompass Human Services – and their first chapter volunteer engagement since the beginning of the pandemic.
“My business is rooted in spreading joy, and spending the day with the Incompass day program participants was the definition of spreading joy,” remarked Dot Richards, vice president of the BNI Power Players and owner of Cards by Dot. “I loved being outside with the volunteers and participants!”
Ryan Hart, a financial advisor with New York Life and treasurer of the BNI Power Players remarked that he was impressed with the coordination of the event by the Care Champions, and could see the impact first-hand. “I was struck by just how genuine the Incompass team was in engaging us as volunteers, and ensuring they put on a great program for the people in their programs. And I can’t wait to see the progress of the vegetables that we planted throughout the day!”
By Alyvia Petrozza, Urban Youth Intern, UMass Amherst Class of 2022
If you asked me a year ago where I would be now, my answer would be so far off from the reality of it all. While looking for internships a year ago, the Urban Youth Internship program at Incompass Human Services had absolutely nothing to do with what I was hoping to work towards after college. However, pursuing internships, especially during pandemic times, was a difficult endeavor, and I began to think differently about this opportunity to work in human services.
I didn’t know what to expect going in…but as I finish I can say it was a truly transformational experience.
Looking back in hindsight, I would not change a single thing about my decision and my experience at Incompass. Working with the individuals in the day habilitation program brought me immense joy on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t just about gaining experience and a consistent paycheck; it transformed into pure love and care I held for each individual and my passion to help them in any way that I could as an advocate. I learned that, even though the internship didn’t seem to focus on my intended area of work, I built up this invaluable experience and a fierce passion that is applicable to any path in life I decide to walk. Almost a year later and I still feel like a completely different individual than I was before I stepped into Incompass on that first day.
After my summer internship had finished, I didn’t feel completely disconnected from Incompass— I didn’t want to be. I remembered a time when myself and my fellow interns gathered in a conference room with the chief marking officer, the director of day services and the CEO of Incompass. At the end of our brief meeting, the head of marketing and the director of day services joked that my creative writing specialization would be a great fit for their marketing team. And although it may have started as a mere joke, it piqued my interest. It was a position that was more applicable to my area of study, while allowing me to still serve as an advocate and a voice for all the individuals I worked with in the day hab.
The first Incompass marketing intern!
I reached out to the director of day services and inquired about a potential marketing internship. Since he had worked with me before and knew that I was passionate about Incompass and its mission, he said right away that formulating a new internship within the program for me was something that he would do everything in his power to make happen.
And so, he did. I spent the entirety of my spring semester working as a part of the Incompass marketing team – creating content, posting on social media, and working in tools that are part of the marketing technology stack. I felt confident in bringing my perspective of already having worked with the individuals in the day habilitation program into this marketing role. Working under Chief Marketing Officer Dan Esdale and Marketing & Fundraising Specialist Amaris Torres, I was taught a plethora of things that I never thought I would be exposed to before I graduated – including posting this very story through WordPress on incompasshs.org!
The next chapter…
This internship was truly tailored towards me through and through; we focused on the projects that would grant me just the right amount of experience in all the things that would benefit me in future job opportunities. It is an extremely rewarding feeling to be able to add things on to your resume that will help you stand out amongst other applicants, which is something I whole-heartedly attribute to the marketing team who were nothing but helpful all along the way.
Now that it is coming to an end, I know that my time at Incompass, whether it be in the day hab or working behind the scenes with the marketing team, will always be held near and dear to my heart.
We are so thrilled to finally share our secret! Monday, October 19 was the official launch and unveiling at our main location in Chelmsford. We are overwhelmed by the love we’ve received from our Care Champions, the folks we are honored to support, and their families. Let’s not forget our incredible community partners! The LifeLinks CLASS community has embraced Incompass, and for that, we are very grateful.
Monday’s unveiling ceremony wasn’t the only thing we have up our sleeves (come on you know us better than that). There are lots of exciting projects in the queue, so stick with us and we promise that you won’t be disappointed!
Our Annual Holiday Party was another night to remember! On Saturday, December 7, nearly 350 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the Greater Lowell area joined us at Lenzi’s. LifeLinks CLASS individuals from day programs and group homes attended, as well as those from the community who look forward to this festive evening every year. The chilly weather didn’t stop partygoers from arriving in their finest holiday attire – everyone was dressed to impress! Once coats were checked and attendees were situated at their tables, the fun began. No time was wasted getting on the dance floor – DJ Ray Tremblay made sure of that. Lenzi’s served a delicious full-course meal, with special thought being given to the dietary restrictions of our guests. A task that is no small feat thanks to the support of our incredible clinical team! The party moved into the lobby area as individuals and volunteers posed for keepsake photos in the accessible photo booth.
It’s important to remember that the LifeLinks CLASS Holiday Party is the highlight of the season for many. It could be they have no living family members to share the holidays with or that their families are not very involved in their lives. For them and for all, our Holiday Party is like being home for the holidays. Thanks to our generous donors who offer their continuous support, we are able to keep this party affordable for the hundreds that attend. With the help of 52 donors, we were able to raise nearly $8,000 to offset the cost of this event. Wow! We couldn’t do what we do without you!
The festivities continued with a Shared Living Meeting hosted at The Establishment in Chelmsford, MA. Our Shared Living providers came together to reminisce, enjoy a delicious meal, swap gifts and face each other in a close game of holiday trivia. What more could you ask for during this special time of year? From everyone at LifeLinks CLASS, we wish you a Happy Holiday!