Sometimes Good Feels Amazing

Sep 7, 2012

  • The Arc’s “whole person” approach to service delivery creates real results in Alaskans’ lives.
  • With the support and encouragement of her team at The Arc, Sharun has turned her life around.
Sharun and Jennifer

Sharun Harris (foreground) is proud of the changes in her life over the past couple years. Jennifer Dooc (background), her case manager, celebrates Sharun’s success. Sharun’s success includes working as part of The Arc’s newest partnership with Illusions Food Company.

Sharun feels good these days. Life wasn’t always good or easy for her. Sharun has dealt with challenges and made some poor choices. For Sharun “feeling good” means a safe place to lay her head, people who care about her, economic and personal security, good health, and a vision for the future. The Arc of Anchorage strives to make life good for Alaskans who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities—not extraordinary . . . just ordinary. Like the lives of you and your neighbors.

Sharun’s story began in Arkansas 35 years ago. The state took custody of her when she was eleven. After that, she lived in a series of formal and informal foster homes and several institutions. She came to Alaska to live with an aunt when she was in middle school. Sharun experiences both an intellectual disability and mental illness – and let’s face it, some people are unkind.

She has been taken advantage of by others and felt the sting of harsh words. She has experienced abuse, struggled with addiction, and the legal system. Just when it seemed things could not get worse, Sharun developed heart problems and had difficulty walking even short distances.

The Arc of Anchorage long ago recognized serving the whole person was vital to a person’s success. Two key components of this approach are Behavioral Health Services (BHS) and Community Living Services (CLS). BHS serves children and adults with a mental illness who also experience an intellectual or developmental disability. CLS provides support to encourage and develop independence that will allow adults to live on their own or with staff and avoid institutionalization.

Two years ago, things began to change for Sharun. Sharun decided she wanted a better life and asked The Arc for help in reaching that goal. Instead of receiving services from several agencies, she would now have consolidated services at The Arc. With the help of a brand new team at The Arc, Sharun started the hard work of turning her decision into reality. She set goals and stuck with them: secure housing, ongoing counseling, job training, and a job in the community.

Sharun’s team worked to help her reduce stress and increase security. With a better sense of self-worth and newly-mastered life skills, Sharun’s determination and hard work moved her toward the life she wanted. Sharun has much to be proud of. Her team is thrilled with her success.

Case manager Jennifer Dooc believes The Arc’s “people first” philosophy made the difference for Sharun. “Sharun has blossomed with the support of her team,” says Dooc. “She reciprocates the respect, values, and trust team members extended to her from the beginning.”

Sharun now works at a job she enjoys. She is substance-free. Her health is greatly improved. Sharun knows she doesn’t have to accept mistreatment from others. And she is saving money for a trip to the Lower 48 to visit family and Las Vegas. Sit back and feel good. Because your support allows The Arc to help people like Sharun achieve good in their lives

. . . and sometimes just feeling good feels amazing.