The Arc of Bristol County dba proAbility provides services to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.
In a conversation with Michael Andrade, president and CEO, the word “disabilities” is rarely mentioned. “The focus is on ability and helping people identify what they can do. We want to help them to maximize their talents and abilities, develop independent living skills, and participate in their communities,” he states.
Smithfield-based proAbility, which has served Rhode Islanders since 2005, provides services to individuals of all ages; presently, its youngest client is four and the oldest is 82. Services for children include home-based therapeutic services, personal assistance and support services, and community-based group activities.
“We provide individual support which, for children, often involves behaviors,” Michael says, sharing an instance where a child exhibited problem behaviors at home, but not at school. proAbility staff helped the family learn how to utilize, at home, techniques that were working for the child at school.
Services are provided for adults living both independently in the community and with family members. “Each person defines what they want their situation to look like,” Michael explains, noting that day and employment services help clients be involved in the community, through volunteering or employment.
This endowment supports another proAbility service: assisting qualified clients and families with home maintenance and related needs. Michael explains that Home of Your Own, a federal, home ownership program for people with developmental disabilities, in the 1990s provided funds for down payments. Unfortunately, he says, the program did not consider the costs of upkeep.
proAbility has taken over the deeds of three Rhode Island residences when the owners could not afford to properly maintain them. “The transferred funds must be kept in restricted accounts and used for people living in their own homes,” Michael states, adding, “We asked ourselves, ‘What if we had a fund in partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation that would, in perpetuity, hold the funds for that intended purpose?’ The Foundation has the statewide presence which proAbility is required to have, the leadership, and the track record.”