The Arc Westchester held its 72nd Annual Membership Meeting virtually on June 8. More than 61 chapter members, invited guests, self-advocates, staff and board members participated. President Kyle O’Loughlin-Cahill welcomed guest and shared a few words with virtual guests. Attendees participated in virtual voting to approve minutes, 2020 chapter financial reports and terms of office for new and existing board members.
This year, two new members were elected to the organization’s board of directors for three-year terms: Robert Bernstein and Debra Bornstein. Long-time board members Patricia Capurso and Sarah Phelan stepped down from their duties on the board.
As part of the agenda, Nancy Patota, executive director of The Arc Westchester Foundation, and Ruedi Laager, president of the Foundation’s board of directors, presented on the state of the Foundation in 2020 and fundraising initiatives during the COVID-19health crisis. The Arc Westchester Foundation raised critical funds to support the chapter and its efforts during the pandemic and beyond.
A special part of the Annual Meeting each year is the presentation of an award to a person who has shown outstanding advocacy leadership skills on behalf of its mission. This year, The Arc Westchester was proud to present Diana Hirt with the 2021 Richard P. Swierat Advocate of the Year Award. Diana is a participant in the organization’s CHOICES program, and works, volunteers and advocates with her peers. During the pandemic, Diana adapted to remote learning and assisted the CHOICES staff multiple times including moderating webinars on topics like “Advocacy Game Show” and “Zoom Tips.” She is loved and respected by her family, friends and staff.
This year, breaking away from tradition, there was a very special tribute for a staff member who has been on the frontline of innovation, inclusion and advocacy for more than 50 years: Fran Porcaro, who is retiring as the leader of the Children’s School for Early Development. She has been instrumental in creating inclusionary education for children with developmental disabilities in our local schools.
“The crisis we faced during the pandemic, along with many challenges and heartbreak, tested our ability to sustain our core values. You have all witnessed the swift response of our workforce heroes who continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the individuals they support, regardless of potential health risks,” said Tibi Guzmán, Executive Director/CEO of The Arc Westchester. “Following proper hygiene procedures, wearing of masks and social distancing continues to be part of our daily routines. All of us have developed a renewed understanding and commitment to the health and safety of the people we support, our colleagues and our communities.”
Please view the annual meeting in its entirety below.