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The Arc of Opportunity

Opportunity in North Central Massachusetts

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History

The Alliance for Resource Management, parent company of Matson Community Services and Arc Community Services announced our new and unified name in February 2012: The Arc of Opportunity in North Central Massachusetts.

The new agency name reinforces our mission “to create and support lifetime opportunities in the community for individuals with disabilities and their families to reach their fullest potential by providing advocacy, education, employment, residential, and recreational services to enhance quality of life.”

In 1999, the Alliance for Resource Management was formed as the parent corporation of Matson Community Services and Arc Community Services, which combined the expertise, service, and knowledge of both agencies. Both Matson and Arc were well known within their service community; however, operating under three different names was confusing to the public and diluted our impact in the broader community. Through the strategic planning process in 2010, it was determined we must consider unifying the three agencies under one name to eliminate confusion and maximize our impact in the community.

In the fall of 2011, a challenge was put out to staff, people we support and their families, business partners, funders, and everyone in our local community to come up with new name suggestions. Forty-seven different names were submitted. A sub-committee of the Board worked to narrow it down two names. The Board of Directors voted on the final name in November of 2011. The Arc worked hard to keep the name a surprise until the launch of the new name in February 2012.

The Arc of Opportunity in North Central Massachusetts continues to provide the excellent and extensive service and programs that both Arc and Matson delivered.

Matson Community Services

Matson Community Services Inc. was initially incorporated in 1973 as North Central Massachusetts Friends of the Retarded, Inc. It started as most classic grass roots movements start. The founder, Mrs. Eunice J. Matson, had a dream. Her dream was a better life than that of the institution for mentally retarded people of the state. She knew that disabled people should live in their own communities. Because of her beliefs, she worked tirelessly throughout her life to ensure that mentally retarded individuals had the chance to realize their human and legal right to live in the community with freedom and dignity.

In late 1972 and early 1973 a massive public relations and fund raising campaign was launched which generated enough capital to open the first Community Residence in the area. In 1973, 76 Mechanic Street became home for nine mentally retarded adults. Over the next four years the agency opened six more community residence programs and the Cooperative Apartment Program (COOP) for ten individuals which provided the next step in the residential continuum.

In 1981 North Central Massachusetts Friends of the Retarded, Inc. changed its name to Eunice J. Matson Friends of the Retarded, Inc. to honor its founder and first Executive Director.

The 80s represented a time of tremendous growth, not just in numbers, but in the ability to provide ‘whatever it takes’ to support any individual. There was tremendous expansion of the capabilities of the COOP program (now called Supported Community Living) that today serves over sixty individuals living semi-independently in the community setting of their choice with personalized staff supports geared to individual need.

This period also saw the Agency absorb programs from other Providers unable to continue their services. This included expanding into the city of Worcester to oversee three Group Homes and a staffed apartment program. All of these programs have been modified to meet changing needs. Two additional Homes have been added in the Worcester area.

In 1992 MCS was awarded a new contract to operate a five person Community Residence for senior citizens in a congregate care apartment owned by the Pepperell Housing Authority.

In 1995 MCS was offered the opportunity to operate the Urban Youth Collaborative program for one year. The premise of this program is to hire young adults from multicultural backgrounds to work for eight or more weeks through the summer months providing direct services to individuals with mental retardation. In 1996 the remaining four years of this contract was re-awarded to MCS thorough a competitive bidding process. As of 2008, we continue to offer this seasonal program.

In 1996 many programmatic changes were instituted. Several consumers moved into our newly formed Shared Living/Adult Foster Care program which is a modification of the foster care model used for children. Our Woodland Street Community Residence in Worcester was closed with all eight consumers moving into an individualized residential option of their choice. The Agency procured its first day services contract to provide alternative day and vocational services for individuals who have not been successful with existing options. The Agency made one more substantial transformation in 1996 by rewriting its by-laws and changing its name. As of May 1, 1996 the Agency became Matson Community Services, Inc.

Our Mechanic Street Residence, Charles Street Programs, and Hamilton Street LGR in Worcester were all closed as residents developed needs and expressed preferences better met by different services. At this point many individuals have opted for Shared-Living arrangements and this component of MCS is experiencing tremendous growth. We have since ‘down-sized’ all but one of our large (eight person) programs. Grove Avenue in Leominster remains the home for six to eight women, some of whom have called Grove Ave their home since inception in the 70s. We have added a Department of Education/Department of Mental Retardation

Support and Respite Program to our array of services. Additionally, MCS has built two Residences and renovated several others to provide fully accessible homes regardless of any individual’s physical limitations.

MCS takes pride in its commitment to the people it serves. Throughout its existence the Agency has endeavored to accommodate the ever changing needs of the individuals supported. This is evidenced by the ongoing program redefinition and restructuring that has taken place over the past thirty five + years. The Agency has been a forerunner in dissolving larger programs and creating individualized program supports. This effort began in 1976 with the advent of the COOP program and will continue as long as the Agency is providing residential and support services. We now proudly provide individualized supports for over 140 individuals in the community, ranging from those in need of ‘total care’ to those living semi-independently and those placed in supportive family settings.

In 1998 MCS, Inc. began structuring a strategic alliance with the ARC of North Central, Inc. (now ARC Community Services) to strengthen available resources and offer the full continuum of services to individuals and their families in Central Massachusetts. Matson and the ARC successfully combined administrative functions as the ALLIANCE for Resource Management, Inc. to make the most of two successful and storied Organizations.

MCS, Inc. continues to develop inclusive opportunities and refine its supports. The Shared Living component has become ‘Home Based Supports’, encompassing DMR funded and Adult Foster Care models with diverse nursing and administrative functions. The Residential and Supported Community Living Divisions undergo ongoing self evaluation and improvement based on the dynamic needs of the individuals who are supported.

Arc Community Services

Arc Community Services, Inc., which was incorporated in 1952, is a private, not for profit organization providing services to individuals who need special assistance in the areas of employment training; job placement; alternative day programs for adults where employment is not feasible; elderly services; summer enrichment programs; community inclusion programs; and recreational/social activities. The organization also provides family support and information services.

This multifaceted agency offers individuals and their families the opportunity to exercise control in making choices in all aspects of their lives while receiving the supports necessary to enhance their lives and becoming as independent as possible within their living, working or recreation/leisure environments.

The goals, direction and philosophy of our Organization are shaped by the Board of Directors of Arc Community Services. Its Board is composed of professionals from human service organizations, business people from the private sector, family members, as well as other interested individuals who have expertise in a variety of areas. This organizational structure is designed to reflect consumers’ and families’ preferences and to promote change when new opportunities and needs arise.

Arc Community Services serves persons with disabilities in the North Central Massachusetts area and follows non-discriminatory and fair employment practices in all of its operations. No individual will be excluded from agency activities on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, sex, age, handicap, national origin, marital status, sexual preference, political or union affiliation, or medical and/or behavioral factors.