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State Deputy Secretary Visits Greene Arc(left to right) Cynthia L. Dias, Executive Director of Greene Arc, Inc., Michele O'Toole, Regional Program Manager for the western regional office of ODP , and Fred Lokuta, Deputy Secretary
Fred Lokuta, the deputy secretary for the Office of Developmental Programs for the state Department of Public Welfare, visited Greene Arc Inc.'s Vocational Training Center (VTC) in Ruff Creek. The Deputy secretary paid a visit to Greene County to meet with people served by Greene Arc Inc.'s programs for intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Fred Lokuta came to Greene Arc's vocational training center to sit down with the family members of those served by Greene Arc. ODP, part of the state Department of Public Welfare, provides funding for many of Greene Arc's programs.
Following his meetings and a tour of the center, Lokuta praised the local organization which provides programs to people with disabilities and promotes their employment and independence.
"It's one of the best; it really is," Lokuta said. "It's very cutting edge, very diversified and very responsive to the people's needs, and I'm impressed," he said.
He also spoke highly of Greene Arc Executive Director, Cynthia Dias whom he called "a respected member of ODP's partnership team." Dias invited Lokuta to come to Greene County.
"Once he was appointed deputy secretary he made it known to the intellectual/developmental disabilities community that he wanted to engage in dialogue with family members (of those with disabilities) to learn more abuot their concerns," she said. "I certainly welcomed him to come visit us."
Lokuta, who served with ODP for more than 28 years and worked his way up through the ranks, said meeting with the families is always a good learning experience. "They bring a very unique perspective, a very real perspective; they have very compelling stories and they help us keep grounded in our mission in serving people," he said.
At a time when state budget difficulties have resulted in cuts in many state programs, ODP has been the exception, according to Lokuta.
"Gov. Corbett has really connected with the intellectual disabilities community, and he has demonstrated that through his proposed budget from this year and his budget last year," he said. The governor's proposed spending plan would increase ODP's budget by about $128 million, he said.
Lokuta said Greene County was very similar to his home town near Scranton. "It reminds me very much of the northeast. The people here are great and the families were very wonderful to talk to, very respectful. I love it here, and I will come back," he said.
~ article courtesy of the Observer-Reporter ~
Greene Arc is a nonprofit corporation that provides residential, vocational, day support, job opportunities, advocacy and mental health and recovery services to citizens with disabilities. It now serves about 110 individuals. Its programs include adult day training, pre-vocational training, job coach and job development and home and community habilitation.
Greene Arc also has a residential services program that includes community living, family living and independent living. In addition, Greene Arc offers mental health recovery programs that include the Drop-In center in Waynesburg, peer specialists and assistance with personal finances.
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