This month, we’re featuring another impactful organization in the community. On August 7th we spoke with Edison McDonald, executive director of The Arc of Nebraska, a local disability advocacy group. Edison shed light on the organization’s goals and discussed the many ways that the Arc of Nebraska serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
What is the Arc of Nebraska’s mission?
The Arc of Nebraska was started in 1954 to advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families who wanted community inclusion as a choice for services. In the late 1960s deinstitutionalization was at the forefront of our organization’s mission, and the Arc of Nebraska was seen as a national leader. The Arc now has 9 chapters, 1500 members, and is a force throughout the state. Today our mission is:
- Working together to achieve a thriving environment for people with developmental disabilities in Nebraska
- Advocating for community inclusion and the best services possible
- Helping to pass and shape laws and regulations associated with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
- Offering training to our members to help them navigate the system of assistance and to advocate on their own behalf
We also partner with other organizations to support and advocate, such as Disability Rights, Nebraska SILC, and Nebraska Transition College.
What are some examples of the ways your organization supports the disability community?
We offer trainings, advocacy, education, resources, and assistance navigating the obstacles society puts up for people with disabilities. Some of the trainings we offer include Board/Agency Leadership, Guardianship, Legislative Advocacy, Person Centered Planning, Self-Advocacy, Voting Rights, Transition and many more.
How can others get involved in your initiatives?
You can join as a member, sign up for our Legislative Action Team, join a committee, or volunteer in your local chapter. If you are interested please check out our website www.arc-nebraska.org or give us a call at 402-475-4407.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
We don’t always get to see the effect of our work directly. However, we constantly save people with disabilities thousands of dollars a year, we ensure families don’t go bankrupt, we help to keep individuals alive and we ensure that students are able to access their right to an education. Probably the best response I got to see was a mom who was frustrated about a letter saying that she had to pay a couple hundred extra dollars per month for her daughter’s care. I had been working on this issue for months, and I was able to tell her that we had gotten that cost eliminated. The smile when she realized that she no longer had to worry about it was so rewarding. These are the moments I work for.
How has the ABLE Act positively impacted the individuals you work with through the Arc of Nebraska?
The ABLE Act has had a tremendously positive effect on many individuals. Without ABLE accounts I see individuals who are forced to spend on things that they don’t need because they have to spend down. ABLE accounts have helped to ensure that individuals achieve financial independence and safety, and are able to make necessary expenditures.
Enable is proud to work alongside organizations like the Arc of Nebraska to support and advocate for the disability community. If you have any questions about the Enable Savings Plan, reach out to us by email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-844-ENABLE4.