The Arc of Monroe is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its Arc Silver Lining, a program that encourages older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to spend their days making new friends, meeting for coffee, enjoying a favorite hobby or learning a new one.
Participants socialize, visit area attractions, volunteer and venture to local senior centers like the Ogden Senior Citizens, YMCA Silver Sneakers and Lifespan Senior Center.
If you asked me what is so different about Arc Silver Lining today compared to one year ago, my answer would be that the people in the program have grown so much. When we started, everyone was a bit hesitant; it was a very new idea and a new experience for everyone. Most people weren’t sure about meeting new people and doing many different things every day. Some were shy when meeting new people in the program and in the community. Then, of course, there were a couple of fearless people that were ready for anything at any time. Together, they have formed a tight-knit group that love spending time together and being active in their retirement.
Thanks to this program, participants now know what it means to retire. Before the program started, we asked people what retirement meant to them. Most of the responses were “What is retirement?” This is when we realized that “retire” was not a word in their vocabulary. After a year, their answers are much different. As one person in the program tells me, “No more work! We go all over and have fun.”
Suzanne Mears, of Ogden Senior Citizens, says that her group has been participating in the Arc Silver Lining program for the past 12 months, and it has been one of the highlights of their year. Partnerships like this enable the people in Silver Lining to develop friendships and have the opportunity to become valued, active participants in their community.
Mears says, “Your participants have brought smiles with them on every visit, both on their faces and to ours. They participate in all the activities we offer during their visits — exercise, crafts, lunch,and bingo. They listen attentively to our guest speakers, and join in the singing when we have musical entertainment. And they bring with them an appreciation for what life offers, helping us to more deeply appreciate the blessings in our own lives. We look forward to seeing the group arrive each week, and we thank you for including us in this very worthwhile program.”
Arc Silver Lining participants also spend time at the Lifespan Senior Center. Lifespan Director Tracey Kilgras emphasizes the joy the Silver Lining group brings to their site.
“They are so friendly and talk to everyone,” Kilgras said. “They participate and enjoy all of the activities we do. They love the food! Silver Lining is a ray of sunshine.”
The Arc of Monroe is excited to announce the expansion of its Silver Lining program to include 10 more participants. The group meets Mondays through Fridays at Arc Works, 1651 Lyell Ave., Rochester. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this program, please contact The Arc of Monroe at arcmonroe.org or (585) 672-2222.
Dillon Hall started his career at the Arc of Monroe as a direct support professional. He is now the program manager for Arc Silver Lining. He has been with the Arc for over two years.