Program: "ARC of Morris" by William R. Testa, Executive Director of The Arc/Morris Chapter
Mary Anne Maloney Introduced Bill Testa, Executive Director of Arc/Morris. He has almost 30 years of experience with the organization.
Bill began by showing a photo of Carrie and John and told the story of Arc through the couple. Arc provides services for people with “intellectual disabilities”. The Arc national movement began with self-help groups when soldiers returned from WWII. Arc/Morris was born in 1953. Early services were for children. Families were often told to “put their child away” as soon as they were born. Children with disabilities were put into state institutions.
In the 50’s, Arc/Morris found new families in need and organized efforts to provide services. President Kennedy’s sister Rosemary had a disability and making this public accelerated the growth of services for disabled.
John was born in the 60’s. Carrie is older than John. She is 80 years old in 2011.
In the 70’s Geraldo Rivera exposed the terrible conditions in the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island. The story led to a growing movement to question public policy around people like John and Carrie. This led to improvements to state institutions but Arc continued to struggle for resources in local communities.
Then in the 80’s Reagan discovered that better service at lower cost could be provided through community based organizations. Reagan allowed Federal money to be allocated to community services. This led to unparalleled growth in Arc.
Now, we no longer lock away people with disabilities but allow them to live within their communities. Arc moved Carrie from an institution to a group home and then she was able to move to her own apartment. After John’s father died, John moved from his parents’ home into a group home in Chester about five years ago. He met Carrie there and they became good friends. Arc/Morris serves many very disabled people, mostly adults. Most require around-the-clock care, or close to it.
Arc has an extensive residential program, including a house in Chatham Township. There are 19 group homes across Morris County. Communities are becoming more receptive to these group homes.
One in 10 families are affected by intellectual disabilities. John and Carrie are just a slice of the Arc activities. Arc is funded primarily by Medicaid. Funds are short. Kiwanis members applauded the speaker and the good work of Arc. Click here to learn more about Arc.