March 23, 2016, marked a new beginning for the Delaware Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (DelARF). As of that date, DelARF began doing business as the Ability Network of Delaware (A.N.D.). This new identity more accurately reflects the focus of the Association’s membership on the strengths of the people they serve and the rich community interactions they develop, rather than on the limitations and restrictions they experience.
For nearly three decades, the Delaware Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (DelARF) has been committed to serving its organizational members, the community service providers who deliver direct services to Delawareans with disabilities who need assistance in community life, as well as to those who need treatment for substance use and mental health disorders.
The vision the Association has pursued over the last 29 years has been to increase opportunities for people with disabilities and other disadvantages to live, learn, and work in their local communities. By working with its members, state government, and other organizations, A.N.D. has pursued the removal of physical, economic, and social barriers so that persons with disabilities and others seeking to become more independent can achieve full and productive lives.
The event was attended by Delaware Governor Jack Markell and more than sixty A.N.D. members, their clients and families as well as statewide stakeholders. Governor Markell told the attendees, “DelARF’s (now A.N.D.) advocacy is crucial to build on our efforts that ensure people with disabilities and others have the opportunities they deserve to fully contribute to our communities. I look forward to our continued partnership”.
A.N.D. Associate Executive Director, Carolyn Petrak highlighted the relevance of the new visual identity and the research that went into the endeavor. Thomas Cook, Executive Director, noted the need for continued advocacy on disability community issues such as community integration with individual choice, adequate pay for direct support professionals and the success of A.N.D.’s employment programs which employed 598 persons with disabilities in 2015 alone. Guest speaker and State Use participant Eric Rayfield, a disabled veteran who found permanent employment through A.N.D.’s employment programs after having difficulty on his own, drove home the need to look at every individual as a unique source of skill and ability and to not count out someone’s success based on a label. We only achieve our potential as a state when we tap into the talents of all of our people.