Frontline Initiative: Making Direct Support a Career
Developing an Employee Relief Fund
In 2011, Hurricane Irene devastated parts of upstate New York. The home of two of our direct support staff in our Catskill region suffered tremendous damage as a result of this storm. This triggered employees from many areas of our organization to collect donations, gift cards, and other means of support for this family. At that time, former Executive Director of The Arc Mid-Hudson Laurie Kelley, recognized this as an emerging need across the agency.
Other direct support staff faced sudden illnesses. Others faced unanticipated circumstances. These created financial burdens for the staff and their families. A few other employees were falling behind on bills. They faced possible eviction from their homes. Not long after, a long-term direct support staff lost his home to a house fire.
Ms. Kelley made a personal lump-sum donation. This created a fund to address these critical needs facing our direct support employees. The Employee Relief Fund at The Arc Mid-Hudson was formed. This fund is financed through employee donations, as well as by people outside of the agency who wish to make a contribution. Donations are tax-deductible. Staff may make one-time donations. They may also opt for donations through payroll deduction. Since 2014, the Employee Relief Fund has provided assistance to 36 staff at the agency.
A committee of staff from various departments across the agency and Board Members review the details of each case. The details are completely confidential. The committee determines eligibility and approval for assistance. The committee also provides information on local resources where staff may access additional assistance beyond what the Employee Relief Fund may offer. The fund awards up to $500 per case.