March 16, 2020

Dear Families, Friends, and Supporters of The Arc of Dutchess:

This is a difficult time for everyone, and here at The Arc of Dutchess, our hearts are torn. In consideration of all that confronts us, hard decisions must be made to protect the people we support and our dedicated members of staff.

Due to concerns related to the mitigation and containment of COVID-19, and in keeping with guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our local and state Departments of Health and New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), The Arc of Dutchess is instituting the following measures beginning March 17 and until at least March 27, 2020:

  • We are closing our Lagrange and Dover sites which will also impact people who receive day habilitation and community pre-vocational services.
  • Individuals living in our certified IRAs will receive support and care at their homes and forgo attendance at their typical day services program.
  • Clinic services will be provided on a priority basis as determined by the appropriate clinician.
  • All Direct Support Professionals (DSP’s), regardless of department, will be reassigned to assist in the Residential Department to continue providing for health and safety concerns for the people we support in their homes.
  • Families that prefer to have their family member with them can do so; however, we request they manage their living environment for at least two weeks, possibly more, to minimize the chance of a potential exposure.
  • We implemented a Visitor Policy that disallows visitors at any Arc of Dutchess site until further notice. 
  • The people we support who are employed in the community and followed by a job coach will be guided by the protocols established by their particular employment site.
  • Our Administrative Offices will continue to be open to assist families and individuals in this challenging time.

As you all know, the coronavirus is an evolving situation. We receive new information and guidance hourly, and will do our very best to keep you informed of our decisions and rationales as they occur. As we head into this week, we ask everyone to send gratitude to our community health care professionals, first responders, EMTs and all others who are working to keep us safe.

Please also keep in mind our direct support workforce who are juggling childcare, keeping their family safe, staying healthy themselves, and getting themselves to work so the people in their care will eat, be safe, receive appropriate care, and stay healthy. They cannot work remotely. They must “show up”, and in doing so, they show us the very best of the human condition. Please don’t forget them in your thoughts as we work to protect and support who and what matters here in Dutchess County.


photo of Crys McCuin signature

Crys McCuin
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess

2017 Annual Meeting

Art Show, Noted Author, and Book Signing

The Arc of Dutchess, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, will hold its Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 27th at 6:00pm  at the Cuneen Hacketts building in Poughkeepsie. A featured exhibit by artists supported by The Arc of Dutchess as well as refreshments will precede the evening’s program with guest, Joyce Scott, author of Entwined – Sisters in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott. Ms. Scott will talk about her twin sister’s journey through a thirty year institutionalization and her own journey to rescue her. Her sister’s artistic creativity emerged resulting in the world renowned sculptural pieces found in permanent museum collections today. Part memoir, part biography, Entwined is a poignant and astonishing story about the art of embracing life.

Everyone is welcome and admission is free.

2019 Celebration of Stars Awards

2019 Celebration of Stars Awards


September 26th 2019 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel!

Every year The Arc of Dutchess Board of Directors and Foundation Board take time to acknowledge and honor those who volunteer their time, talent and treasures to not only our organization but the community where we live and work. We recognize these remarkable members of our community annually at our “Celebration of Stars” awards ceremony  held this year on September 26, 2019 at the Poughkeepsie Grand.

Our Sponsors
The 2019 Celebration of Stars Honorees


Matt & Lynn McDonald – Frank Pessia Award

Dr. Ellen Gambino – Peggy Martinko Award

Jadelyn Panko – Kenny Dixon Spirit Award

Rachel Lafreniere – Katz Award

Brian Gelb – Mimi Stambrook Award

Katherine Seckler – Sara Studler “Smile” Award

The Harney Family – Bessie Payne Award

Alma Gibson – Rising Star Award

…a young professional who demonstrates boundless energy, optimism and generosity (Sarah Studler)

Sarah Studler was an Arc of Dutchess employee who left our world much too soon. In the span of her 25 years she enriched all who knew her with her generosity of spirit. For us at The Arc of Dutchess, Sarah represented the very best of the new generation moving into our workforce. She brought a wonderful energy and spirit to our work place. She was confident, funny, always smiling, and ready to embrace the world. She cared deeply for her family, her friends, coworkers and her community; she had a way of making everyone and anyone feel special and valuable. Within her all too short tenure at The Arc of Dutchess she developed relationships in every department and at every level. To honor Sarah’s memory and her contribution to our collective community, this award celebrates an individual who demonstrates in word and action, those wonderful qualities we cherish and remember in Sarah … spirited, motivating, inspiring, limitless, and exceptional as a colleague, employee, community member, and person.

…a trailblazer (Peggy Martinko)

During a time when many women had not yet found their voice, Peggy Martinko stood out as a ‘renaissance woman’. She and her friend, Kay Seeberger created a cohort comprised of educators, family members, other community activists dedicated to ensuring a rich, productive future for individuals with developmental disabilities after their school experience ended. Concerned that the only services available at time did not adequately support those with more serious challenges, Peggy and this band of advocates took their message to County and State representatives and the Dutchess County community to ensure these individuals were not forgotten. This took courage, leadership, and perseverance. Peggy had it all; she was “a force to be reckoned with”. At the same time, Peggy raised her family, maintained an extensive circle of friends, and was active in many other community groups. She is described by her children as “gifted in making others happy.” Those who worked and socialized with Peggy tell us stories of a humorous and fun-loving person with a talent for playing the kazoo and making people smile. the Arc of Dutchess is forever in her debt.

…a community business partner (Employer of the Year)

Awarded to a business in the Dutchess County region that offers authentic and substantive employment opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities, thereby providing opportunity for enhanced self-esteem and personal growth for the person as a valued member of the workforce.

… an individual with disabilities who demonstrates a “no excuse, can do” attitude who perseveres through life’s challenges with grace, dignity and strength (Kenny Dixon)

Kenny was an empowered spirit who persevered through mounting medical challenges with strength, dignity and determination. He inspired all of those who crossed his path with his wit, his heart and his “can do” attitude. Kenny made a concerted effort each day to lift the spirits of those around him and leave life’s complaints untold. He represented “live each day” by dwelling on today’s opportunities. Kenny just wanted to keep it moving whether it was making someone laugh, playing hoops or getting through his dialysis treatment. This award celebrates an individual who defies what others may have determined as their destiny, perseveres through life’s challenges, focuses on the good in the world and doesn’t let “life” get in the way of their dreams.

…a selfless pioneer (Katz Award)

The Katz Award was created by Phyllis Rosenfield, and her late husband Herb, in remembrance of Phyllis’s parents, Jean and Louis Katz. Jean Katz, was very involved in the development of AHRC in New York City, the roots of the NYSARC, Inc. organization, and a cohort of Ann Greenburg, the parent who placed the original advertisement in the NY Times which was the genesis of this movement. For her daughter Barbara, Jean worked to ensure services for all children with developmental disabilities would exist for a lifetime. It is with that in mind that we give this next award. Since 1993, this award has honored individuals who have made volunteering a lifestyle. These folks don’t see their activities as extra tasks in their lives, but rather, as essentials parts of their existence.

…an impassioned parent (Frank Pessia)

In the early 60’s Frank Pessia and his wife adopted 3 little triplet girls. Sadly, Mrs. Pessia passed away when the children were only 3 years of age. About 2 years later in 1967, all three girls were diagnosed with developmental disabilities. One can only imagine this level of loss within such a short period of time, especially given that in 1967, half of the nation’s 25,000 school districts offered no classes for students with special needs. But Frank Pessia became an advocate for service development fueled by the love for his daughters. In 1971 Frank Pessia became the first Chapter President of The Arc of Dutchess. It is his dedication as a parent, and innovative spirit the early years of our organization that we honor in the presentation of this award.

…a noble ally (Mimi Stambrook)

Mimi Stambrook was well known as a volunteer in our community. She worked at the Little Red School House and later with Rehab Programs. She was considered a leader in our field in the Mid Hudson Valley, throughout her career. Since 1989, the Board of Directors of The Arc of Dutchess has presented the Mimi Stambrook Award to a Board Member, staff person, or volunteer, whose work in the field goes far beyond the scope of their job or voluntary position at The Arc of Dutchess.

…a humanitarian legend (Bessie Payne)

Bessie Payne was a remarkable woman. When she died in 1991 at age 96, she left Dutchess County with a much richer and more diverse array of services due to her involvement. She was instrumental and considered a driving force behind the development of many Poughkeepsie civic organizations – in 1913 along with her mother and 10 other women she created the Poughkeepsie Neighborhood Club. She is best remembered by The Arc of Dutchess as the Principal of “The Little Red Schoolhouse” in Poughkeepsie. When you talk about services for the developmentally disabled in Dutchess County – you might say it began right there; with her, and other educators in our community who devoted their lives to the “children” we serve today. It is in her memory, and with her vision of service that we present this award.

… Rising Star

Awarded to an employee of The Arc of Dutchess who demonstrates in word and deed, empowerment of individuals we support, belief in and support of person-directed supports, respect for the people we support, respect for colleagues and co-workers, and respect for the work of the organization

St. Mary’s

photos-374St. Mary’s Church

Happy Holidays!  The Parishioners from St. Mary’s Church in Fishkill have been supporting people from The Arc of Dutchess for over 15 years!  Each year, more than 50 people supported by The Arc of Dutchess are included in the church gift drive.  Nancy Metz is the Coordinator of this and she goes above and beyond to make sure everyone has a personal wrapped gift(s).  Recipients benefitting from the gift drive are from our Supported Work department, Medicaid Service Coordination program and Residential program. 

 The Arc of Dutchess is eternally grateful to Nancy Metz and the many parishioners from St. Mary’s Church in Fishkill for helping make the holidays brighter for those we support!

Speiler Fund: The Community Foundation

Speiler Fund: The Community Foundation

Thank you to the Community Foundation and Jeff Feldman for selecting The Arc of Dutchess as a recipient of the Howard K. Spieler Memorial Fund. This Fund allows The Arc of Dutchess to provide additional assistance to individuals and his/her family during the holiday season. We would not be able to do this without the continuous support and generosity of the Community Foundation. This is our eighth year working with the Community Foundation on this collaboration.

Seeberger winner 2017

Seeberger Winner 2017

The Arc of Dutchess proudly honors Dutchess County Exectutive Marcus Molinaro as the 2017 Recipient of the Catherine Seeberger Citizenship Award. Mr. Molinaro is recognized for his dedication to support citizens in our county with special needs. His “Think Differently” intiative has already created public awareness and stimulated positive changes in our community.
 “This is a call to action, a genuine challenge to determine if we have it within ourselves to see past our differences and treat others the way we would hope to be treated. Too often, many with special needs are over looked and their unique abilities ignored. Instead, we seek to lift each other up and embrace all residents of all abilities.” – Marcus Molinaro
The 2017 Seeberger award was presented to Mr. Molinaro at an “Evening of Discovery” on March 30 where many “unique abilities” and talents were show-cased.