Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commissioner Toni Wolf spent the day recently touring several Berkshire County Arc facilities, meeting with frontline staff members, and discussing ideas to improve the current systems for funding and delivering services.
Her day started at the Berkshire Legislative Breakfast, where she listened to several providers of services talk about a range of issues from staffing challenges to low wages and transportation issues.
Traveling with Kenneth Singer, BCArc’s president and CEO, along with Sandy Biber, Director, Community Based Services at MRC, they visited BCArc’s unique mail service facility, Zip ‘n Sort, where they watched more than 30 staff members — many who are individuals served by BCArc — process some of their 200 customers and several hundred-thousand pieces a month. J.G. Ivy, who manages the facility, demonstrated the first-class mail sorter, the only machine of its kind west of Springfield, Mass., which serves to attract most of the region’s larger companies.
Commissioner Wolf then visited Nu-Opps, a state-of-the-art daytime program for individuals with acquired and traumatic brain injury. There she met some of the program directors, as well as individuals in the program, and learned about the goal-oriented programs in place to ideally develop independent living and self-management skills.
Earlier on the Commissioner sat with BCArc’s Wendy Wright to discuss funding mechanisms and challenges for both BCArc’s Employment Services and MRC’s grant award processes.
To close the day, the group visited two residential homes, meeting the individuals and staff, and touring the homes.
Commissioner Wolf told the 300 people at the Legislative Breakfast, where the day started, that she was excited to spend more time in the Berkshires, and urged them to invite her back.