The Arc Mercer 2020 Fall Gala: A Heroes’ Theme and a Virtual Twist
Every year, The Arc Mercer hosts a Gala in the fall to spread awareness of our mission and celebrate the community we serve and those who make our mission possible.
In years prior, the events have been hosted by various venues such as Grounds for Sculpture where delicious meals were served, raffles held, and good times had by all. These events serve as the Agency’s largest fundraising and have become an integral part of The Arc Mercer’s culture as the largest morale-raising event of the year as well!
With the onset of the pandemic, many organizations made the difficult decision to postpone and cancel their events all together. But, as our Gala committee weighed their options, it became abundantly clear that the show must go on by any means necessary. So, the committee took on the task of holding the event virtually for the first time ever.
It was a learning experience, but we are proud to say that our first ever Virtual Gala was a success! In fact, members of the community reached out to our team directly to share their accolades:
“I know that putting together the gala this year was an even greater challenge than in past years, but in my humble opinion, it was the most meaningful one yet. It was amazing to see a recap of what The Arc Mercer was able to achieve this year during the pandemic. Great job and kudos to all!!”
– Janice VanDeusen
“I have been on other organizations’ virtual events this year, but none were nearly as fun. I can’t imagine the challenges in doing a virtual event, but you did it well. The shout-outs to the group homes were fantastic. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of everyone. As you know, Albert stole the show. Jill Swanson and I remarked to each other that Albert’s appearances in the event were uplifting to say the least. Thank you sincerely for the award. I truly am honored to have the Lawrence Health Department recognized by The Arc Mercer. Thank you for showcasing your organization in such an inspiring manner. As you know, my days are long and stressful and they have been for the better part of 2020. Last night it was so very meaningful to see your event take this challenging year and find so much positivity from it. I can’t begin to thank you for that. I needed that and I appreciate it. Thank you all.”
– Carol Chamberlain
We are grateful for all of the meaningful words of encouragement we received from the community and all of the generous donations. This year was the most profitable Gala in The Arc Mercer history!
Most importantly, we congratulate all of our award winners:
• Leadership Hero: The Honorable Senator Stephen Sweeney
• Advocacy Hero: Thomas Baffuto, Executive Director, The Arc of NJ
• The Protectors:
- Ewing Department of Health, represented by Heather Larovere
- Lawrenceville Department of Health, represented by Carol Chamberlain
- Robbinsville Department of Health, represented by Sharon McNellis
- Connie Silakoski, an exceptional community member
• The Birthday Brigade:
- Prospect Heights Fire Department
- Nottingham Fire Department
• COVID Busters: The Arc Mercer Janitorial Team
• Dynamic DSP: Himie Wesley
• The Show Must Go On Award:
- The Arc Mercer Transportation Team
- Quarantine in Place Staff
• Employee of the Year: Tarweh Witherspoon
• Rising Star of the Year: Terrance Brown
We hope that everyone who logged in enjoyed themselves. We thank you all for your support and look forward to your continued partnerships in the future!
Thank You to Our Sponsors for Their Generous Support!
Corona Virus Update
As many of you are aware, a second wave of COVID-19 has struck New Jersey. This wave has affected everyone. However, the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled community has been especially impacted.
While The Arc Mercer has not been lucky enough to remain unaffected by the pandemic, we wanted to take the time to remind you all about what we are doing as an agency to keep our community safe, and what the possibility of a vaccine means for us.
Our Janitorial Department has done—and continues to do—a fantastic job cleaning and disinfecting all of our properties. The team takes extra precautions to ensure that any area suspected to have had exposure to the virus has been cleaned thoroughly and promptly. Additionally, The Arc Mercer Janitorial Team has been diligently cleaning many of the buildings in the State Capital to ensure that those who keep our state running are able to work in a safe, virus-free environment.
The Residential team has worked quickly to reinstitute our Quarantine in Place (QIP) and Shelter In Place (SIP) programs. QIP and SIP are initiatives The Arc Mercer instituted in order to ensure that all homes were properly and safely staffed.
We have also worked hard to make sure that our community feels some sense of normalcy and community. Those who participate in our DDD Day Program still attend virtual sessions Monday through Friday and are able to remain active in the community while working on their skills.
Those in our Vocational Day Program (located at our Occupational Training Center) who also live in one of our Group Homes have been allowed back into work with social distancing and limited occupancy. The program has been running successfully, and the Director of the Program, Michael Ginder explained that once their doors reopened, the joy of the consumers was palpable. Everyone was so excited to see their friends and coworkers … and the social distancing had even made them a little more focused!
Finally, with the promise of a vaccine, our team is doing everything possible to plan for its administration to all of our consumers and staff who wish to receive it. We are grateful to finally have a visible end to this pandemic, but are also keenly aware that we must continue to exercise diligence and caution.
The Arc Mercer Elects 2020-2021 Board of Directors
Even in the middle of a pandemic, the electoral process cannot be halted.
The Arc Mercer has successfully nominated and elected its Board of Directors to serve from the year 2020-2021.
Our Board is as follows:
Maria Fischer, President
Mayor Bert Steinmann, 1st Vice President
Jeff Hewitson, 2nd Vice President
Rick Koreyva, Immediate Past President
Tom Colitsas, Treasurer
Janet Zatz, Recording & Corresponding Secretary
Sam Colavita, Parliamentarian
Mayor Reed Gusciora, Delegate
Nantanee Koppstein, Delegate
Geoff Morris, Delegate
Members at Large:
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo
Janice Van Deusen
Our team at The Arc Mercer is grateful to have a Board that is as engaged and passionate about our mission as we are. Many of our Board Members have been affiliated with our agency for many years through many phases, events, and much of our growth.
The Arc Mercer Board of Director’s is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who come from various professional backgrounds. Their perspective on Agency changes and developments is key to maintaining our Agency’s reputation of exceptional service and innovative thought.
When asked about her feelings about her time on the Arc Mercer Board of Directors, President Fischer responded with the following:
“This election marks my second term serving as President of The Arc Mercer Board of Directors. I am so incredibly moved by my fellow Board Members and their consistent interest in the events of the Agency and their dedication to the mission, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This pandemic has created challenges never seen before in the I/DD field. The Arc Mercer’s response has been enhanced by the many ways that our Board Members have stepped up to support the management team with their skills in various fields, such as Human Resources, Finance, Facilities, and other Agency programs.
Though The Arc Mercer has always maintained a reputation for being one of Mercer County’s finest provider agencies, these last few months have really showcased and solidified that sentiment.
I am also proud of The Arc Mercer staff as a whole. Their ability to navigate this pandemic is unparalleled. Every time I attend their meetings, I am impressed by their creativity, compassion, and diligence. This has been highlighted by their consistent work to share their knowledge and best practices with other agencies. They are clearly driven by their mission to ensure a better world for members of the I/DD community as a whole … not just those who choose The Arc Mercer as their provider agency. In closing, I want to share how proud I am to be part of the leadership of such an engaged and talented team that comprises The Arc Mercer Board of Directors.”
We are thankful for our Board for their continued service to our mission and overall community. They do not delegate from afar—they interact with our staff regularly and attend many of our weekly meetings with enthusiasm, ready to motivate our team. We are pleased to welcome them for their 2020-2021 term and hope the community will welcome them with open arms.