Letter, Opinion

ARC Rutland Area thanks Elks for Valentine’s Day dance

Dear editor,

ARC Rutland Area, an organization that works with citizens with developmental disabilities and their families, wants to thank the Rutland Lodge of Elks #345 for sponsoring a Valentine barbecue and dance for approximately 95 members, family and friends of ARC Rutland Area on Sunday, Feb. 19.
We would like to give special thanks to Brian Gaura, Carolyn Ravenna, Pat Farley, and all other helpers from the Elks for making this party happen (a week later, due to weather!). And if you see our members who helped — Debbie Wortman, John Wing, Shiela Dockum, Bob Poquette, Lisa Martell and Terry Stevens — be sure to extend a hearty thank you to them as well. Our deejay, John Saltis’ Penguin Productions, created a fun atmosphere for dancing — we thank you.
The continued dedication and support of the Elks is greatly appreciated. The Valentine’s BBQ Dance would not have happened without the Elks’ sponsorship. Socializing at the dances brings health to the body and mind. Having an opportunity to dress up, go dancing and say “I love you” was a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift. Elks, we applaud your community giving.
ARC Rutland Area continues to advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by providing five dances/events a year; a representative payee program to help individuals with their finances so they stay in stable living conditions; advocacy support for adult individuals, parents, and siblings of children with disabilities, where folks learn to speak up for their needs; and resources and referrals for anyone calling for information. Voting yes to ARC Rutland Area on the March ballot in your towns ensured that ARC Rutland Area can continue offering all these supports to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families for another year.
Some people believe holding a party geared towards people with developmental disabilities is segregation, but when you see the room full of red, white and pink decorations and people laughing and dancing and so joyous to be with their friends, I believe differently. I believe at that moment, this group of individuals was doing what they wanted to be doing: having fun in their community with their peers. ARC, with the Elks’ help, kindly set the stage for the opportunity.
There are many reasons why these dances are important, but the one that stands out for me is when a self-advocate said, “Without these dances we wouldn’t have anything.” Here people are able to practice their social skills, make new friends, or get reacquainted with old ones. They are able to work on their circles of support and talk about their goals. Even if some don’t dance, they had “to move” to get to the hall. The dances we provide have various aspects that are helpful to a person with developmental disabilities. Life, it is not “just” a dance.
Give us a call at 775-1370 and learn more about ARC Rutland Area.

Lisa S. Lynch, executive director ARC Rutland Area, a United Way member agency

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