UPDATE: Community Foundation Awards Over $50,000 to Arc through COVID-19 Grants

The CNYCF, in partnership with other area giving organizations, recently established the COVID-19 Community Support Fund to help support nonprofit organizations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The fund, designed to rapidly deploy flexible resources in the form of one-time operating grants on a rolling basis to nonprofits whose operations support vulnerable populations stressed by the outbreak, awarded Arc of Onondaga $15,279 to support our telehealth and cleaning equipment needs, and most recently, an additional $19,137 for remote learning laptops, PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies, and specialized CPR PPE for CPR training and emergencies. Just this week, we learned that an additional grant in the amount of $16, 250 has been awarded to allow us to purchase 25 more laptops to enable staff to work remotely.
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As a provider of essential services, since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis Arc of Onondaga has strove to provide a continuum of care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive support from the agency. On March 17th, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) mandated suspension of our Day Programs, where many of the people we support receive clinical services. In order to continue to provide therapies such as mental health counseling, we are employing telehealth. Funding from this grant aided us in the purchase 10 additional laptops, paid licensing fees for our clinicians, and added licenses to enable our staff to use Microsoft Teams to allow group meetings. Additionally, while our residential programs remain open and we are considered essential workers, we are providing for telecommuting to the maximum extent possible. In order to enable our staff to work remotely and still maintain communication and support to our residential programs, additional technology, such as telehealth and telecommuting is needed.
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Funding also ensured the safety of the people we support by augmenting our cleaning protocols. Earlier this year, we learned about the Clorox 360 Cleaning System – which pairs innovative electrostatic sprayers with disinfectant cleaner to kill pathogens in an extremely effective and efficient way. The grant enabled Arc of Onondaga to purchase the system for use in our 22 residences, and at our Wilbur Avenue office which houses Horizons Clinic and administrative personnel.
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Most recently, Arc learned that the guidelines to provide day services changed and we are now able to provide and community habilitation services remotely.  After surveying families of the people who were receiving these services before the onset of the crisis, we learned that more than fifty people were interested in resuming.  Ten laptops will be now be purchased for our staff to enable them to provide day services so people during the crisis can continue to stay engaged.
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Because many of the people we support have underlying medical conditions, and many are medically frail, per mandates from OPWDD, our staff who are working in our 22 residential sites are required to wear PPE at all times -a line item we did not plan for in our 2020 budget.  Thanks to this grant, supplies such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, thermometers, and other PPE’s required to effectively provide services can be purchased without creating any further hardship for our agency.
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Due to the nature of the supports we provide, members of our direct care staff must be trained in CPR. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the American Heart Association has issued guidance that our staff should no longer be using face shields.  They are requiring that we now use pocket masks and one-way valves during CPR training.  These are much more expensive than the face shields, but, we will be allowed to reuse the pocket masks after disinfecting them for training, but not the valves. The grant will allow us to purchase the necessary shields and valves needed to keep both our staff and people we support safe.
We are extremely grateful to the CNY Community Foundation for enabling us to provide services while protecting those we support and employ.
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