The Arc of Orleans and Genesee ARC approve merger

Staff Reports Posted 14 September 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The boards of directors for both The Arc of Orleans and Genesee ARC have voted for a merger of the two agencies that serve developmentally or intellectually disabled residents.

NYSARC, Inc., the non-profit organization that oversees the Genesee and Orleans chapters, will monitor and guide the voluntary unification process, which should be completed in 2016. Combined, the agencies serve over 1,200 individuals with disabilities.

Donna Saskowski, longtime executive director of the Genesee ARC, has also been overseeing the Orleans chapter since April.

“For months we have been meeting to discuss how we can collaborate and share services,” Saskowski said. “This was the next logical step.”

John Huber, president of The Arc of Orleans, said the merger is a progressive move that will expand opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in both counties.

“Our new dream is to adapt to the changing horizon while providing expanded services to the people we serve,” Huber said.

Candie Pocock is president of the Genesee ARC. She echoed Huber’s comments.

“What’s important for families, staff and individuals in both chapters to understand is that programs and services will continue in each county, and now have the opportunity to grow,” she said.

Each board recognizes the similarities between their respective counties, Saskowski said.

“We are rural, neighboring, agricultural communities, roughly the same size in area and among New York’s smallest in terms of population,” Saskowski said. “Looking ahead, we feel our similar cultures will allow for a smooth transition.”

In a joint statement the chapters’ executive boards said the merger will approve the financial health of the organization.

“We are choosing to unify in order to effectively address the financial challenges resulting from current NYS Medicaid transformational reform initiatives.”

Genesee ARC was founded in 1966 and will be marking its 50th anniversary next year. The Arc of Orleans was founded in 1970 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2015.

“This is a strong statement in support of the people we serve and all of our staff,” Saskowski said about the decision to merge. “The Orleans and Genesee Chapters have nearly 100 years of experience serving people with disabilities in our two counties. This vast experience will position us well going forward.”