DANVERS – Northeast Arc, a not-for-profit organization that helps children and adults with disabilities become full participants in the community, has received an anonymous $250,000 gift to support the Center for Linking Lives. The gift coincides with the second anniversary of the launch of the agency’s Campaign for Linking Lives. That fundraising effort—launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic—has now raised more than $2.5 million toward its $3 million goal.
The campaign is raising funds to support the innovative Center for Linking Lives at the Liberty Tree Mall. Opened in October 2020, the Center represents the transformation of 26,000 square feet of retail space into a community gathering spot where individuals with disabilities can flourish inclusively alongside their peers. The Center also features parcels, a unique store selling products made by, or created at businesses owned by people with disabilities or autism.
This anonymous gift is one of four $250,000 gifts Northeast Arc has received and it comes in the form of a challenge gift. Northeast Arc will receive the funding once it receives a matching amount of gifts from other donors.
“We are thrilled to have this $250,000 match at this important point in the Campaign,” said Jo Ann Simons, President and CEO of Northeast Arc. “Early on, we had a $125,000 matching gift challenge from the Kraft Family that created a great deal of momentum and helped us raise critically needed funds. We expect that this even larger match challenge will further inspire people to help us fully fund our Campaign and ensure the Center for Linking Lives reaches its full potential as an inclusive space supporting people with disabilities.”
Highlights of The Center for Linking Lives include:
• Assistive technology lab to train individuals on the latest digital technologies as well as innovative devices that assist with cognitive, physical and emotional impairment
• The New England Biolabs/Ellard Family Test Kitchen to provide experiential learning of basic food preparation in a controlled setting – a necessary life skill for individuals hoping to live independently
• Small meeting rooms that allow for 1-on-1 speech or cognitive therapies or mock interviews to prepare job seekers to meet with potential employers
• Group program space for small social or recreational programming
Since the Center opened, several individuals supported by Northeast Arc have already been hired at other retailers in the mall, including Marshall’s, Claire’s, and Panera Bread.
“Simon is always looking for innovative ways to ensure our malls remain valuable community hubs, and Northeast Arc’s Center for Linking Lives has helped us achieve this goal at Liberty Tree Mall,” said Lauren Dalis, Area Director of Marketing for Simon. “The Center does more than just deliver services to our North Shore community. The individuals with disabilities supported by Northeast Arc have brought a new energy to the mall – whether they’re working in one of our stores or out shopping themselves – and we’re thrilled that our visitors now have the chance to interact with people with disabilities in a way that is inclusive and welcoming.”
To donate to Northeast Arc’s Campaign for Linking Lives, visit linkingliveschallenge.org.