International Partnership Initiative
The Arc Mercer, Mercer County’s premier agency providing resources for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over seventy years, unveiled the “International Partnership Initiative” to form the first of its kind, international chapter of The Arc, in the Republic of Liberia. During a Ceremony in celebration of Liberian Independence Day, Liberian officials stated praise and support. Liberian Minister of Youth and Sports, D. Zeogar Wilson, shared that “this partnership will enhance the quality of life for Liberian people with developmental disabilities, and their families.”
The Arc Mercer has a long history of embracing its diverse workforce, to include the formation of the employee-based “Liberian Community Connection Group.” This group inspired the initiative to recruit staff directly from Liberia to train in New Jersey and build skills to return with to Liberia.
Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton celebrated this project as “a wonderful companion to the plans to form a Sister City relationship between Monrovia in Liberia and the city of Trenton”.
The Consul General’s office for the Republic of Liberia shared the belief that “staff trained through a visa program would learn great skills, and would have an infrastructure to put them to use once back home in Liberia”
Arc Mercer, at Tuesday’s ceremony, committed to partnering with the government of Liberia to embark on a mutual capacity building project in Liberia. “Individuals, in Liberia, with disabilities face a lack of resources and infrastructure to help them integrate with their community” said Steven Cook, Executive Director of The Arc Mercer, “We recognized an opportunity to bring our standard of excellence to the people of Liberia to help these people live fuller lives, while demonstrating our commitment to our Liberian Arc Mercer staff, that we share their vision of a better Liberia for their loved one.”
The Arc Mercer joined with Peter Berns, CEO of the Arc of the United States to announce this initiative. Mr. Berns shared that “this would be the first international chapter of the Arc and could serve as a model for more international proliferation in the future.” Mr. Berns added, “Arc Mercer could be poised to have a significantly positive impact on the supports people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities receive in many areas in need of advocacy and supports, and we are proud to support this effort.”