Good Life

8 Questions with Becky Cunningham

Becky Cunningham, CEO of The Arc of Centre County, is planning a Mom Prom fundraiser for the agency.
Becky Cunningham, CEO of The Arc of Centre County, is planning a Mom Prom fundraiser for the agency. CDT photo

Mom Prom is a ladies-only night out — so the pressure is off guys out there still awaiting an invitation from that special someone.

The Arc of Centre County’s inaugural soiree seeks to recapture the fun and excitement of the high school rite of passage without all of the pressure or teenage insecurities (i.e. men). And, like any self-respecting prom, the evening’s entertainment will feature a DJ, a photo booth and a silent auction.

This year’s theme? Helping others.

Becky Cunningham, CEO of The Arc, shared her thoughts on how one night on the town can help make a lifelong difference.

Q: What services does The Arc of Centre County provide?

A: The Arc of Centre County provides services designed to meet the unique and specialized needs of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our community living arrangements, more commonly referred to as residential group homes, generally provide 24-7 person-centered care in the areas of communication, medical needs, community integration, self-help skills and activities of daily living.

Home and community habilitation services are provided to enable persons with a disability to acquire or improve domestic, social, self-care, communication and other skills vital to living more independently in their community. Supportive employment services (Nittany Employment Services) assist persons in seeking community employment by focusing on job finding and job support. Community based work assessments, job searching, interviewing, on-the-job training and follow-along services are all avenues that NES utilizes to help persons secure, maintain and progress in their chosen career path.

Q: This is the first Mom Prom sponsored by The Arc. What appealed to you about this particular fundraiser and how does it tie into your mission?

A: The Arc’s Fund Development Committee loved the idea a Mom Prom and as an agency are always seeking events where we can bring together those we serve and our community to have a wonderful time. The Mom Prom also appealed to us because of the time of year. March was Intellectual/Developmental Disability Awareness Month and April is Autism Awareness Month, therefore, this is the ideal time of year to promote awareness of the crucial services we provide while raising funds for our programs.

Q: What are your goals for the evening?

A: Our goals for the evening are simple — bring awareness to the services we provide, raise money for Career Discovery, bring together the ladies of our community and have a fabulous time doing so! Remember, you do not need to be a mom or to have any specific attire to attend this event; we welcome all women (older than 21) to join us in the spirit of this event.

Q: What are some of the activities you have planned?

A: The evening will feature music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, a photo booth, silent auctions, door prizes and contests with outstanding prizes. Our lady-themed activities and contests, such as our “Miss Originality” contest for the most outstanding attire and our “Mom Prom Queen,” are sure to make this a memorable night for all.

Q: Where will the funds raised be applied?

A: The money raised from the Mom Prom will specifically benefit a blossoming program which is part of The Arc’s Nittany Employment Services called Career Discovery. NES has been providing supported employment services and working to help persons with a disability secure successful and fulfilling employment in integrated community settings since 1982. Career Discovery is an exciting new program which uses non-comparative assessments to focus on abillity and creates interactive opportunities for career exploration, job preparation and customized job placement.

Q: Nittany Employment Services helps people with intellectual disabilities secure competitive employment. How do you help people determine their strengths and goals?

A: In Career Discovery, a certified discovery facilitator translates an individual’s passions, interests and existing abilities into marketable job strengths. In the course of Career Discovery, these positive attributes are combined to culminate the development of personal career goals. At the core of the Career Discovery process is meaningful time spent with the individual in his or her home and in the community observing in both familiar and novel settings. In addition, information sharing by others that know the person best contribute to the development of an individualized profile, or in other words a road map for employment, that will ultimately lead to a successful career match and success on the job.

Q: How does the Career Discovery program expand upon the services offered by NES?

A: Until recently the methods used to make the dream of employment for persons with a disability a reality had changed very little over the past 30 years. As we strive for more person-centered and individualized employment strategies, Career Discovery enables us to apply best practice; our ultimate goal is to identify conditions for success as opposed to measuring success based simply on the swiftness of the job placement. The call for improved services and new ways of thinking has begun at the local, state and national levels and The Arc is thrilled to be a part of cutting edge programming designed to meet the needs of those we serve.

Q: How can people learn more or get involved with The Arc of Centre County?

A: Attending the Mom Prom is a great way to begin learning more about The Arc. We will have an informational table which will feature details about our programs and ways to get involved including membership, donations, and volunteering. Those interested may also visit our website at www.taocc.org, for more specific information about our services. Last but certainly not least, if you are interested in learning more about hiring or promoting employment opportunities for persons with a disability, please contact The Arc at 238-3225.

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