Cliff Love likes to keep the energy high. He also thinks everyone deserves opportunity. This summer he took 14 individuals from the Berkshire County Arc (BCArc) on an overnight camping trip. He’s done a lot of things like this in his past 25 years in human services, 14 of those years at BCArc. But one of his most rewarding moments happened this year, he said, at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, of all places, when he watched a young man in his Transitions Program pass his Driving Permit test. “Man you should have seen his face, he was beaming.”
“At Transitions our job is to help them move toward independence, with an emphasis on employment skills,” he explains. This includes managing time and money, making decisions, learning how to speak-up for themselves, and understanding what is expected of them.
“These are adults, and we treat them like adults,” he says emphatically. “They are strong willed and you have to let them fail occasionally to learn. That can hurt—it’s hard for any teacher or parent to watch a student fail—but that’s how we all grow.”
Cliff has been around the BCArc block. He has directed a residential home, supported individuals at day programs, and tracked their progress using data to reach goals.
“You have to want to do this work,” he said. “You have to believe that everyone deserves a chance, that everyone can achieve independence with the right setting. Here at the Berkshire County Arc, we provide that culture for growth—for staff and the people we serve. And I’ve seen success countless times.”
For all he demands of his individuals–his insistence on honesty and hard work—he is known as the fun guy in the program, and can be counted on to make the room smile.
“We don’t all make progress every day, and we don’t always get along,” he said. “But then things will click, everything moves forward a few steps, and you know exactly why we stay in this line of work.”