Loneliness shortens lives, research shows. The Berkshire County Arc is one of two central-western Massachusetts regions participating in the year-long Al Condeluci Pilot Project to create opportunities for isolated individuals to build social engagements.
“The initiative will create opportunity to better help people become a part of their community,” said Sonja Stewart, the director of Family Support and Advocacy, who is heading the initiative and spent two full days training for the program. “Along with making our communities better, this effort supports the belief that when the individuals are out in the community participating and contributing, broader opportunities and attitudinal change occurs.”
The program seeks to help the individual develop valuable connections that they can nurture and organically grow on their own, outside of personal care. With a goal of complete community integration, a successful scenario will minimize the need for formal human services. Ideally, support services would fade out and the individual would continue independently with the community relationship.
BCArc’s pilot model will include community-based groups, skill-building classes, self-advocacy, and more. With a healthy number of community partners in place through numerous BCArc programs, the pilot program will look to work to increase the capacity of our already-established partners, and expand new community-based programming for the families that we serve.
The program, spearheaded by Al Condeluci, CEO of Community Living and Support Services (CLASS) located in Pittsburgh, Pa., is a professional disability advocate with more than 50 years of experience.