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!”
More than 100 people came together at the Black Box Theatre to advocate for the human services workforce
PEABODY, MA – On Friday, April 1, Incompass Human Services joined six other northeast Massachusetts human services agencies to host elected officials at the annual “Northeast Human Services Advocacy Breakfast” at the Black Box Theatre in Peabody, MA. Given the fact that it was April Fool’s Day, the theme of the 2022 breakfast was “It’s No Joke,” with a robust policy agenda focused on the workforce crisis in the state’s human services industry.
More than 100 people attended the breakfast that was catered by the Breaking Grounds Café, a social enterprise operated by the Northeast Arc. Speakers included Senator Joann Lovely, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, Centerboard program director Martina Campbell, and Northeast Arc family member Carol McGee – whose sister receives services from the Northeast Arc. The breakfast was co-sponsored by a consortium of human services providers:
Human services leaders are asking for an increase to the Chapter 257 Rate Reserve that would bring wages to $20.30/hour
Northeast Arc CEO JoAnn Simons, Bridgewell CEO Chris Tuttle, NFI Massachusetts CEO Lydia Todd, and Incompass CEO Jean Phelps also made remarks in support of the workforce.
“We’re specifically asking lawmakers to set aside funds to raise the starting wage for human service workers,” remarked Tuttle.
Incompass CEO Jean Phelps at the podium.
Phelps, who had just returned from Washington, D.C. where she attended the Disability Policy Seminar, recalled words from Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley that stuck with her that morning. “It would be great if we didn’t have to weaponize our trauma around disability to adequately support our services.”
Incompass Human Services and the six other human services agencies sponsoring the event used the venue to highlight the major policy initiative being championed by The Collaborative – an increase of $581.6 million for the Chapter 257 Rate Reserve. This increase is a necessary investment in the human services industry, as it would bring wages up to a more competitive $20.30 an hour.
“Without this increase, we’re going to continue to lose workers to Amazon and to the state, and we won’t be able to offer the services and supports that the vulnerable people we serve rely on,” Todd told the crowd.
Speakers focused on the important work that human services workers perform, and the lives they touch
A high point of the morning was the legislative panel, which was moderated by Arc of Massachusetts CEO Leo Sarkisian. The panelists included:
Senator JoAnn Lovely
Representative Jamie Belsito addresses the crowd.
Senator Bruce Tarr
Senator Brendan Crighton
Representative Paul Tucker
Representative Dan Cahill
Representative Jamie Belsito
Representative Thomas Walsh
Representative Sally Kerans
“This is about dignity. This is about respect. This is about our communities. This is about our vulnerable populations,” said Representative Belsito in her remarks advocating for more support for the critical workers in the human services field.
Picking up on that theme, Representative Tucker remarked that “they do it because they have a passion for helping people and working with some really special folks. No headlines. No accolades. Sometimes they might get a pat on the back, but that doesn’t pay the bills.”
Representative Walsh added that “we have a terrific group of legislators here who really do hear your message…and we have a tremendous respect for the work that you do.”
Last year’s breakfast was cancelled due to the pandemic, so this was a momentous morning
Attendees remarked on what an uplifting morning it was, and how much they appreciated being in-person given that last year’s breakfast was cancelled due to the pandemic. Senator Diana DiZoglio and former Senator Richard Tisei were also in attendance, as were numerous human services workers, families, and caregivers.
The legislative panel and human services leaders take a moment to strike a pose after a lively panel discussion.
Black history isn’t just something that we look back on. Black legislators, nonprofit leaders, activists, small business owners, artists, and the list goes on. History is being made right now. As a human services agency that supports people from all walks of life, we were excited to profile trailblazers in this field as part of Black History Month.
Johnnie Lacy (1937-2010)
“Johnnie Lacy was a leader in the independent living movement and fought for the rights of people with disabilities, especially people of color. She led Community Resources for Independent Living, a nonprofit in Hayward providing services and advocacy. Lacy spoke of being excluded from the Black community due to her disability and from the disability community due to being a person of color. As a Black woman in a wheelchair, she educated her communities about race and disability and served as a role model for many other Black disabled women.”
In her own words, listen to Lacy’s oral history here.
Craig Smith (1956-2010)
” Craig Smith was a champion for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Massachusetts. A fervent support of self-advocacy, Smith helped co-found the organization known as Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong to help others in the state advocate for themselves. He lived self-advocacy. He used his time on this earth meaningfully, as a staff member at Vinfen, a co-founder and Chair of Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong, and serving on many committees and boards. Always with the goal of making the world a better place for people with disabilities. In 2009, just a year before he left us, Smith advocated for the name change of the Department of Mental Retardation, now known as the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).”
“Lois Curtis is an African American artist with intellectual and developmental disabilities and schizophrenia. Curtis paved the way for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to get out of institutional settings and live within communities. During her childhood and early adulthood, she lived in state-run institutions, and her requests to live in the community were repeatedly denied. She sued the state of Georgia, and her case went to the Supreme Court. In the now-famous L.C. v. Olmstead decision, the Court declared that Curtis and other people with disabilities have a right to live in the community and to be provided adequate supports. The Court said the unnecessary institutionalization is a form of segregation and is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Curtis now lives in the community. While Lois Curtis’s contribution to disability and civil rights history is immeasurable, her life extends far beyond that seminal court case.”
Learn more about Lois’ life and her accomplishments here:
“Dr. Sylvia Walker was born in New York City, New York on July 18, 1937. She was blind, and few had expectations for her beyond the typical jobs such as clerical work. After more than 10 years and four degrees, Dr. Walker became an assistant professor in the School of Education at Howard University, and soon a full-time professor. She founded the Center for the Study of Handicapped Children and Youth at Howard University in 1975. She was a champion for disability rights and her research helped lead to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 1994, President Clinton appointed Dr. Walker as vice-chair of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (AAPD) with fellow activists.”
In so many ways we see that Black history and disability history intersect. It has been such a wonderful process of discovering pioneers in our own field. We hope that after reading these profiles you’ve perhaps walked away with a new piece of information or a new appreciation for how far human services have come.
Funds raised were donated directly to Greater Lowell families in the Incompass Family Support Center who were identified as high-need this holiday season.
CHELMSFORD, MASSACHUSETTS— Incompass Human Services™ (formerly LifeLinks CLASS), a not-for-profit organization that delivers enriching supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families throughout Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence, has raised nearly $20,000 through the “Adopt-a-Family” year-end fundraising campaign in support of families in need.
” Adopt-a-Family” was launched to provide targeted financial relief to high-need families who receive support from the Incompass Family Support Center. Hardships caused by the pandemic presented new challenges for households who are already caring for loved ones with medically complex conditions. Some family members lost their jobs, while others are simply unable to work due to schools and day programs shifting to virtual environments.
Incompass Human Services put out a call-to-action to its supporters in Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence, and the community quickly rose to the occasion. Three of the largest contributions came from long-time supporters of the organization…
Gregg Bonheur, Senior Vice President of The Bonheur Scott Traino Group at Morgan Stanley and former member of the Incompass Human Services board of directors, donated $5,000.
Wallwork Curry McKenna, an integrated marketing firm led by Alison Costello, and Decibel Media, a media planning and buying firm founded by Tim Davies, donated a combined $3,000 after working with the agency to launch the new Incompass Human Services brand.
The Durkin Foundation, a Billerica-based charitable foundation led by Executive Director Matthew Durkin that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as U.S. veterans, and those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease, donated $2,500.
The campaign’s initial goal was surpassed last week, and all of the money raised going directly to selected families in the Incompass Family Support Center who were overjoyed with the news!
“To wrap up the year with such support from our local community partners, vendors, and from Care Champions within our agency really just leaves me speechless,” says Kelly Trickett, Director of Family and Community Services at Incompass Human Services. “The impact that this has had on our families could never truly be measured and we are beyond grateful for each and every donation that has been received.”
“We faced every obstacle you could imagine this year, and we faced it head-on as a team,” added Jean Phelps, Chief Executive Officer at Incompass Human Services. “But the fact is that we rely on the generosity of the community to provide the critical services and supports that families in our network so desperately need, and the overwhelming response to the “Adopt-a-Family” initiative truly warms my heart.”
We’re thrilled to participate in the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce TEAMS Fundraiser, a virtual community event supporting the nonprofit community in Greater Lowell.
The reality is, we’ve incurred significant costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including PPE, cleaning supplies, technology products and services, and increased staffing costs. We also were forced to cancel our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Kentucky Derby Party.
While the entire LifeLinks CLASS team has risen to the COVID-19 challenge, our Care Champions need your support!
And in true LifeLinks CLASS fashion, we’re collaborating with our individuals to create some truly amazing and creative auction packages…
Old World Wine Basket
Generously donated by our Board of Directors, this wine basket is truly special! Curated by the sommelier at Wine Sense, these are truly high-end wines that can pair with an incredible meal. Value: $400
LifeLinks CLASSY Artwork
One word to describe this artwork: PRICELESS! Our individuals are so creative, and all money raised by this item will be used to purchase new art supplies for our day programs. Value: Priceless
Edelman Autographed Helmet
He may be catching passes from a new QB this year, but he will go down as one of the greatest receivers in Pats history! His career arc is inspiring! This comes with a certificate of authenticity (COA) and would look great on anyone’s shelf! Value: $500
Bird Autographed Basketball
They don’t call him “Larry Legend” around here for nothing! Larry Bird personified the 80s Celtics team, and his memorable battles with Magic Johnson and the Lakers in the old Boston Garden are iconic to this day! COA included. Value: $300
Best Patio Set on the Block
Here is our featured item, and it’s your COVID-19 oasis! Picture this on your patio…
It’s okay if you don’t want to purchase an item, you can always just make a small donation on the site. Let’s show the entire region how much we love our LifeLinks CLASS Care Champions! Silent auctions are fun, but there can only be one winner for each item, right? Every gift helps!