THE ARC BALTIMORE
For the more than 1,000 people with developmental disabilities who access the support and programming at The Arc Baltimore, in-person activities are important. But when the coronavirus pandemic made gathering indoors in large numbers unsafe, The Arc made a series of tough decisions to keep its community safe.
First, it closed its day centers, impacting more than 400 people. Staff from the day centers were then redirected to the homes of 174 people with developmental disabilities who needed additional daytime support. The Arc also purchased $1.2 million worth of personal protective equipment and medical supplies, using grant funding, and distributed those resources to people it supports in jobs across the Baltimore region.
Staff members made regular phone calls to anyone they were not seeing in person, and like almost every organization during the pandemic, The Arc transitioned to Zoom, holding more than 50 classes each week so community members could continue seeing each other.
Staff at The Arc has been on call almost nonstop throughout the last two years of the pandemic, according to board president Erik Daly. However, “we continue to provide the highest level of service to our constituents while battling daily adversity in the form of facility and home closures, outbreaks, misinformation and political uncertainty,” Daly said.
In January 2021, The Arc partnered with CVS and held nine vaccine clinics, which provided the Pfizer vaccine to people with disabilities and Arc staff, a move it calls “essential” due to the “increased vulnerability of many people we support who suffer from diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions.”
Now, as the country emerges from the recent delta and omicron waves of the pandemic, The Arc has worked to incorporate smaller in-person gatherings back into its programming and notes that the enjoyment at those gatherings is “palpable.”