Every parent envisions a certain future for their child – a future filled with happiness, an opportunity for growth, and love. What would you do if you were faced with a diagnosis that would threaten that future?
Nearly 24 years ago, doctors diagnosed Fred with severe autism. Denise Boian, his mother, suspected this when he wasn’t meeting certain developmental milestones, but the news was devastating.
Still, her hopes for Fred have remained steadfast. When asked what she wants most for her son as he gets older, Denise said simply, “Happiness. I just want him to be happy.”
Now at 26 years old, Fred is living a full life at home with his family – an intentional decision that a lot of work has gone into. To make staying at home a possibility, Denise and her husband, Jeff, have prioritized the development of Fred’s communication and behavioral skills.
Being nonverbal means that Fred has had to find other ways to communicate his needs. He’s been fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) since he was a child, which has become one of the most popular language classes across the US. Still, ASL is not enough to bridge the communication gap when Fred is in more community-based settings. That is where augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and speech-generating devices (SGD) come in.
The developmental disability (DD) community was hit especially hard by the pandemic, and many families worried about their loved ones regressing during this time of isolation. Amazingly, it was quite the opposite for Fred. For five hours a week, he works one-on-one with a special education teacher from Chelmsford High School to refine his written skills and using his SGD. He depends almost entirely on this device to communicate, and the Boston Children’s specialist that he sees was blown away by his recent progress. During their semiannual telehealth visit, Denise was beaming with pride as Fred expressed himself.
It’s no secret that Fred has some incredible people in his corner. While a loving and supportive family plays a huge role in a person’s journey in the DD community, the other piece of the puzzle is the programs and supports they receive. The Incompass Family Support Center helps the Boian family navigate these supports through the Agency with Choice (AWC) program.
When asked about staff who impacted Fred’s journey over the years, Denise noted Linda Cox, Senior Family Support Specialist, saying “She owed a lot to her.” Fred has since been transferred to Benjamin Waithe’s caseload, an Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialist, and Denise is confident that “he will show the same enthusiasm as all Incompass staff have shown our family.”
Our family support specialists help Denise manage a stipend that allows for weekly communication and behavioral therapies, respite relief, and community-based activities with Fred’s companion, Andy. Denise had this to say about their friendship, “Andy gives Fred a chance to feel like a normal kind of person. They really are like best friends.”
She often wonders what Fred’s life would have been like without this diagnosis. Would he have followed in his family’s steps and joined the military? Would he be in a relationship? She takes solace in knowing that her son will always be cared for, as her daughter will assume care of Fred one day. With the support system he has, the sky is the limit.We’re rooting for you, Fred!
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.”
One year after the merger between LifeLinks, Inc. and CLASS, Inc., Incompass Human Services reflects the combined agency’s comprehensive service portfolio that serves the whole person and promotes inclusion in the community.
The crowd at 4 Omni Way looks on as the new brand is officially unveiled in a ceremony on Monday, October 19.
CHELMSFORD, MASSACHUSETTS— LifeLinks CLASS, a human services agency serving nearly 800 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families throughout Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence, announces a new brand and new identity. The agency, an affiliated chapter of The Arc™, will now be known as Incompass Human Services™. As part of the shift, a new logo, tagline, and web domain (www.incompasshs.org) are all being rolled out.
After the merger between LifeLinks, Inc. and CLASS, Inc. was announced on July 1, 2019, establishing a brand that more accurately represented the services and impact of the combined agency was deemed an immediate priority.
“Since the merger was announced, our focus has been bringing together two human services agencies with a combined 111 years of experience in providing critical services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Jean Phelps, Chief Executive Officer of Incompass Human Services. “Today’s announcement reflects the culmination of a year-long process to present ourselves as a unified agency – stronger together, with a longstanding tradition of doing whatever it takes to enrich and transform the lives of others.”
The brand was officially unveiled to the Incompass Human Services community in an outdoor ceremony on October 19 at the Chelmsford facility, where Phelps, chairman Tim Allen, and two members of the agency’s day habilitation program held a ceremonial ribbon cutting that revealed the new logo adorning the building at 4 Omni Way.
“Last summer, even after the merger, a lot of people still referred to us as LifeLinks or CLASS and Chelmsford or Lawrence,” said Allen. “But over the course of the year, by focusing on the people and families we serve, we became a cohesive agency with a comprehensive service portfolio that is able to serve the whole person at every stage of their life. Today, we take the next step as Incompass Human Services.”
“Innovating to help the most vulnerable thrive – that’s our brand position,” said Daniel Esdale, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer. “The new brand embodies a ‘care champion’ culture that is defined by the innovation, expertise, and open hearts that have made us a premier provider of lifelong resources for people with disabilities, and their families.”
The Incompass Human Services brand is a complete reinvention of the LifeLinks CLASS identity and visual system that embraces a brand promise to deliver a more personalized, innovative approach to care that best supports the needs of society’s most vulnerable individuals. The new tagline announced in a launch video on incompasshs.org, “with open hearts, we open doors” further speaks to the impact of the work being done throughout Greater Lowell and Greater Lawrence by Incompass Human Services “care champions.”
“The open heart logo and bold color palette differentiate us in the field of human services and evoke the core qualities of the Incompass Human Services care champion,” according to Esdale.
“As we grow and add new services and supports that address the needs of the people we serve across their lives, Incompass Human Services is a brand that will grow with us,” says Phelps. “And I’m thrilled to present the impact of our work under this new brand umbrella.”
The staff at Incompass Human Services gather around the new entrance sign at 4 Omni Way.
CEO Jean Phelps addresses the crowd at the unveiling ceremony on October 19.
LifeLinks CLASS has been faced with some incredibly difficult decisions in these past few months — decisions that greatly impact our staff and the individuals that we support. As part of The Arc of Massachusett’s #DontCutUsOut campaign, it is imperative that we act fast to ensure the continued funding of our services and supports for the I/DD community.
“Adults with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or other intellectual and developmental disabilities served by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) will lose services if funding and policies don’t meet the requirements of the re-opening period and thereafter.”
Richard Faucher, a passionate advocate, voiced his concerns to our local legislators in the letter below:
As you know Life Links has been a rock-solid DDS contract provider for many years. For the Cadillac of providers to lay off 140 employees, it will have a devastating effect on services whether it is day or group home services.
There is no question other providers are going to have to lay off employees and maybe close down permanently. It is estimated some of these laid-off employees will seek employment at places paying more than $15 an hour thus leaving a huge void in the provider ranks when and if things return to some kind of normalcy.
As an advocate, I urge you to see what you can do to make sure there will be funding in the next budget to continue the great services providers give to our most venerable population.
Some facts affecting those below if funding and policies do not meet the re-opening time frame and future needs.
+ 10,000 persons who receive day and employment services
+ 9,000 individuals in congregate living
+ 1,300 new students in transition from high school to adult life
+ Additional persons receiving Mass-Health services
(these are stats from the ARC of Mass)
Not that I have to remind you all, but the Department of Developmental Disability (DDS) generates more funds back to the general fund than any other agency in the Commonwealth.
On a personal note: My brother Pete who lived in a group home in Tewksbury passed away on May 13, 2020. His passing was not from Covid-19 but other complicated medical issues. He was a fighter up to the end. He died at the age of 69, a little less than 3 months before his 70th birthday. I mention this for one reason only. Many years ago in the 50’s the life expectancy was I think less than 40-50. If it wasn’t for our families great gene pool AND the outstanding support by legislatures like yourselves who cared for the developmentally disabled throughout those years and passed legislation supporting the needs of the population giving DDS and the providers the tools to do their job, Pete would not have lived as long. The Commonwealth has come a long way, but this situation we are in today reinforces more than ever the need to fund the DDS.
Thanks so much for letting me vent…I wish you and your families stay healthy and safe..
Through collaborations with trusted community partners, our Family Support Center is organizing a variety of virtual events. that touch on health, wellness and performing arts. The events are open to the community and we encourage everyone to join. In addition to virtual events, our family support specialists are rounding up activities that you can take advantage of at home — click here to read more.
Our Day Habilitation and Clinical teams are also organizing events that are open to those in the Day Program and Family Support service portfolio. Our goal is to support you and your loved ones as best we can through this Coronavirus outbreak.