Editors Note: This is the next in a series of articles about the member agencies of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
PARKERSBURG - Funding from the United Way allows The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley to better serve area residents with special needs.
The United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley annually contributes $13,500 for The Arc's adult independent living skills and emergency preparedness programs, as well as the adult and youth People First Self-Advocacy Program. The United Way also gives $7,500 in funding for The Arc's six-week summer day program and adult living skills program.
Angie Ramsey, left, who has developmental disabilities and uses a wheelchair, is shown with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
"The Arc has grown into an agency that helps people throughout all the phases of their lives," said Christina Smith, executive director of The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley. "We appreciate and rely on United Way funding. Another benefit of being with the United Way is our ability to network with other agencies that serve the same people we do."
Smith said The Arc's self-advocacy program has allowed those with disabilities to be their own advocates, which not only gives them a sense of empowerment, but also allows them to directly interact with the people who make laws which help or hinder them.
"It enables those individuals to have the skills to speak up for themselves," Smith said.
Angie Ramsey, who has developmental disabilities and uses a wheelchair, has been one of the success stories of The Arc's People First Self-Advocacy Program. Ramsey has spoken face-to-face with legislators, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to tell them her own story in her own words.
"I get to go to lots of places. I got to go to the (state) capitol," Ramsey said. "It's great. You can tell them what you need, what you want to do. And they can work on it.
"This is great for me because I can speak up."
Lisa Lockhart and her son Trenton Lockhart, a 17-year-old with autism, ADHD and seizure disorder, have been working with The Arc since he was 14 months old. Trenton Lockhart has had the opportunity to participate in The Arc's summer day program, along with other programs.
"It has given him the chance to do things he otherwise would have not been able to do," Smith said.
Lisa Lockhart said The Arc also has helped with self-advocacy for her son, helping her to sort out education and even guardianship issues for Trenton Lockhart.
"It has been a struggle, and The Arc has helped with that part of his education, to make sure he is getting the help he needs," Lisa Lockhart said.