GREENFIELD, Mass. -- There’s a sure sign of spring today at Greenfield Community College.
It’s the Annual Spring Auction staged by the area’s United Arc from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Cohn Family Dining Commons, to raise money to support services and programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Bill Pratt of Bernardston, who’s wielded the official gavel at countless sales to the highest bidder, will serve as auctioneer for this always-popular event. Admission is free, and those who come will be given a spot in a free raffle to be held at the close of the festivities -- just for showing up.
Those who plan to attend are asked to register at www.unitedarc.org. Free beer and wine along with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres will be provided at the auction.
"It’s a fun-filled event," said Sandy Sayers, the United Arc’s Director of Development, who’s been with the organization for more than a year. "It’s a great way to not only enlist the community’s help in raising funds, but a wonderful way to both inform the community about what we offer and to involve our consumers in the event as well."
The United Arc raised a $12,000 at last year’s spring auction. Sayers said the target goal in 2013 is an ambitious $20,000.
Auctioneer Pratt will preside over the expanded Live Auction portion of today’s program. Seventeen items up for bid include four tickets to the Red Sox game with the Baltimore Orioles next month. In addition, there are five different golf outings such at the Greenfield Country Club, the Misquamicut Club in Westerly, R.I., the Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston and the Edison Club near Albany in Rexford, N.Y. The latter golf course was founded in 1904.
Another exciting item up for grabs is a Mt. Snow Ski Package. This offering provides two adult lift tickets, a pair of two-and-a-half-hour private lessons, and one overnight at the Grand Summit.
Also available for bidding, among other items, is a week’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard; a three-night stay at the Mountainside Resort in Stowe, Vt.; plus a one-hour scenic flight over Franklin County with Phil Corrinet.
And don’t forget an African safari for two, lasting for six days and six nights. Photos of last year’s expedition are being displayed at the auction.
In addition, there will be an expanded Silent Auction with more than a hundred items up for bids. Included in the offerings are gift certificates to local restaurants, hair salons, and massage therapists, plus tools, artwork, gift baskets, and plants. Items in this phase of the overall auction will be on display on tables with a big sign-up sheet for each item upon which each bidder "silently" records his or her bid.
Representatives from the self-advocacy clubs of the United Arc will be selling mugs at today’s auction to raise money for the UA’s two self-advocacy groups: the Frontier Club and the Pioneer Club. The Frontier Club assists members in Franklin County, while the Pioneer Club aids members in the North Quabbin locality.
"The United Arc is proud to focus on respect for and inclusion of our consumers," said Sandy Sayers. "We’re very focused on customizing a plan for each of our individual consumers. In talking with people in our community, I’m often told by them that they think of the Arc as the go-to place to get support and help for people with developmental disabilities."
For more than 30 years, the organization has been led by Executive Director Ed Porter. Founded in 1951 as a non-profit human services agency, the United Arc has served Franklin and Hampshire Counties since then, said Sayers.
"The United Arc," she added, "is committed to ensuring that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have full access to systems and opportunities that uphold human rights, enhance growth and wellbeing, offer choice and promote full inclusion in our society. This mission is carried out by providing services, conducting advocacy, identifying resources, and creating community partnerships."
Governed by a hard-working board of directors, The United Arc is divided into two major program areas: Adult Services and Family and Peer Support.
In the past eight years, Adult Services has close to doubled its number of consumers. Adult Services consists of Residential Services, the Community Support Program (CSP), and Adult Family Care (AFC).
Residential Services has four residential programs which make their home in the town of Greenfield. 16 adults live in the homes. Of all ages, the consumers receive a caring environment and help in guiding their well-being and personal growth.
Forty-five people are served by the Community Support Program and are able to live more independently in the Greenfield area in their own homes. Meanwhile, Adult Family Care offers an opportunity for residence for those at least 16 years old, who are unable to live independently due to physical, medical, psychiatric, or cognitive difficulties.
The United Arc’s second program, Family and Peer Support, serves individuals in every Franklin County town (26) along with nine towns in Hampshire County, six in Hampden, and eight in Worcester. Family and Peer Support offers four areas: Family Support Centers (one in Greenfield and another in Athol; the Positive Parenting Program that reaches more than 100 families each year; Youth Transition, aiding young adults and teens in readying them for the future as adults; along with Self-Advocacy (the Frontier and Pioneer Clubs).