Thursday, September 20, 2012

What Does It Take To Be A Friend?

George Suess, CEO of The Arc of Delaware County said, “It takes time and reciprocity.” The Arc of Delaware County has long advocated for ways in which people with disabilities can not only become part of the community and accepted , but also develop true friendships in which people delight in sharing each other’s company. 
Warren Stelter became friends with David Bailey, owner/operator of Hamden Auto about 7 years ago through Janet Stoop a Life Coach at THRIVE. Janet had previously introduced Warren to snowmobile racing and explained, “Warren likes anything that runs and is loud so snowmobile racing was right up his alley.” She knew that her friend Dave also loved snowmobiling so she introduced them to each other at a snowmobile event. Dave relates how he immediately liked Warren because of “his phenomenal sense of humor.” He related that Warren shares his love of practical jokes.  At the garage, Warren and Dave demonstrated a favorite prop used for one of their pranks- an old air horn from a truck. Both Warren and Dave love to surprise people with the blast that happens when they hook it to the air compressor.  Warren enjoys developing ideas for pranks and jokes that keeps the garage team laughing and on their toes.
The sharing of mutual interests and supporting each other is a large part of friendship. Warren always has his friends at the garage in mind and brings items he thinks would be useful when he visits.  A stray cat adopted the garage and Warren brought a jar in to collect donations for its care. “Garage Kitty” has been a fixture at the garage for a long time.
When Warren participated in the Lawn Tractor Pull at the Delaware County Fair this year, the entire Hamden Auto Service business closed so that all of the employees could see him compete. Dave related, “We were excited and proud of Warren. We are competitive individuals and Warren was competing, and so we all wanted to see him at the Tractor Pull.” They also had chipped in to buy Warren his own toolbox for his tools he uses when helping with the many projects at the garage. Currently Warren and Dave are working on restoring a ’69 Chevy truck. Dave said, “Warren enjoys doing anything that needs doing around the shop.” This includes sanding, painting, and helping with mechanical repairs.
Outside the shop they share time together going to snowmobile races. And each year Dave takes Warren out for his birthday.
Friendships are reciprocal and enrich each other’s lives. “A friend is a gift you give yourself.”~ Rovert Louis Stevenson
If you would like to take the next step and make a personal connection contact The Arc of Delaware County via email: or call our Community Relations department at (607) 865-7126. View more about “Making Community Connections” on our YouTube site:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Is Abuse Inevitable?"- George Suess, CEO Answers the Question

In July, the National Conference of Executives (NEC) of the Arc held its 2012 Summer Leadership Institute in Indianapolis, IN.  George Suess, CEO of The Arc of Delaware County (NY) led a Pre-Conference seminar where he shared what he learned about hiring and retaining the best staff members.  He was also interviewed by Michelle Fischer, host of The Arc of Indiana's podcast, "A View from My Window" about how to build systems where abuse is NOT inevitable.  George spoke about building these systems around the right set of core values that inevitably create the right culture where people with disabilities can thrive and not be subject to abuse.  He shared that when you find employees that share the same values and train and support them, great things happen!

Listen to the full podcast here: "Is Abuse Inevitable?"

Follow Michelle Fischers "A View from My Window" podcast by liking her Facebook page at:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Arc of Delaware County Leading the Way with Vantage Point

 In the wake of renewed efforts to improve the treatment of individuals with severe developmental disabilities in the state of New York, The Arc of Delaware County (Delarc) is experiencing a surge of interest in its training initiatives from both government officials and industry professionals. The focus is primarily on Delarc’s Vantage Point training program, a unique exercise that puts able-bodied individuals into situations where they experience first-hand what it’s like to go through life with a disability.

By the end of the third quarter, more than 70 individuals will have gone through the Vantage Point program, a 44% increase over 2011, with the organization on track to reach close to 100 participants for this year alone.

“The increased interest in Vantage Point is testament to the commitment of those in our field who constantly seek ways to improve care for those with developmental disabilities,” said George Suess, CEO of Delarc. “After more than 30 years implementing a philosophy of positive reinforcement without physical intervention, we are eager to have others experience our approach in action and gain insights into how those with disabilities should be served.”

 As part of the Vantage Point program, participants are put through a series of exercises that simulate real-life disabilities. Participants are required to negotiate the physical obstacles encountered from a wheelchair; identify individuals and locations while blindfolded to replicate visual impairments; and engage in a variety of mental exercises that challenge memory and other cognitive functions. At the same time, participants interact with Delarc staff who demonstrate their hands-on approach to care and service, which blends proactive support, constant encouragement and positive reinforcement to achieve desired behaviors, without ever resorting to physical intervention or restraints.

 Among those participating most recently in Vantage Point is a group of senior staff from the New York State’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). Leading the way was Commissioner Courtney Burke who went through Vantage Point in early August as part of her ongoing commitment to learning about different ways to improve and enhance the quality of service provided to disabled citizens in the state.

 “During my experience I observed both constant positive reinforcement and constant check-ins to see how people were doing,” said Commissioner Burke. “I was particularly impressed by the respect and genuine affection shown by Delarc staff to everyone.”
In addition to OPWDD officials, professionals from across New York and other parts of the country have visited this summer to learn from Delarc.  Among them was a team of four staff from The Arc of Fresno, California, two from the Arc of Westchester County, and three from rehabilitation agencies in Connecticut.

“As the only organization in New York State with a Board of Director’s policy prohibiting any physical intervention, mechanical or pharmacologist restraints, we are very proud of the successes we’ve witnessed among those in our care as a result of our positive approach,” said Suess. “We are delighted to have an opportunity to work with state officials and other professionals in our field to share our philosophy and training programs with the ultimate goal of eliminating all instances of abuse among those caring for people with developmental disabilities and improving their quality of service.”

For more information about The Arc of Delaware County and its Vantage Point program, please visit