The Arc Mid-South’s Advocacy Department is a valuable resource to Memphis, and the surrounding communities. The Community Advocate not only reaches out to our client base, but also maintains an Information and Referral system to advocate on behalf of individuals in the mid-south that require assistance. The Advocacy outreach in the Mid-South is crucial.
The Division of Disability Services reports that Shelby County has over 1,217 residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) that do not have services (over 6,537 statewide) and the number is drastically increasing. The Arc is able to provide assistance in the home, assist with employment opportunities, and connect individuals in providing a place of safety for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
One of our Career Development and Job Placement (CDJP) students, a 19 year old young lady with schizophrenia and a bi-polar disorder desperately needed our help. The Arc extended our services beyond helping her to gain employment. She came to The Arc, the result of a referral from The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DRS). The young lady informed Felecia Carothers, Assistant Program Manager in the Career Development and Job Placement Program that she was pregnant. Felecia gathered more information and was baffled to learn that the young lady was living in a rundown apartment with no appliances or utilities.
As the young lady completed her Job Readiness training, our Community Advocate, Sandra Hawkins in collaboration with the CDJP department worked diligently to alleviate her living conditions. The first goal was to get the utilities reconnected in her apartment. They were once again heartbroken to find that the young lady’s identity had been stolen due to tampering of mail that occurred frequently at the apartment complex. The identity theft created difficulty in restoring her utility services. The Community Advocate, in conjunction with the Assistant Program Manager worked to ensure that the services were restored.
The diligent efforts and the assistance of programs and services offered by The Arc afforded the young lady an opportunity for her basic needs to be met, and also enabled her to remain in the Job Readiness Program. The goal was to empower her to rise above her circumstances and not allow her disability nor pregnancy limit her ability to earn a paycheck. The young lady completed the job readiness training, and the Career Development and Job Placement program is in the process of locating employment. The baby is due in June and the Community Advocate is currently advocating for a more secure and livable home situation. As a means of advocating, residency has been submitted in an apartment where the rent is based on a sliding income scale. The apartment approval is currently pending, and we are hopeful that just as the diligence in her utility restoration was successful, this will also result in a favorable outcome.
The young lady’s diagnoses and current living situation requires stability to be successful. The Arc has been able to bring some comfort and security in her current living situation, however will not cease advocating until the living circumstances provide a safe haven. The CDJP department is dedicated to helping her gain income in addition to her disability benefits so she can provide for herself and her unborn child. The Arc is ensuring that she has all the tools and resources available to care for herself and her child.