The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Sharing Our Story

Five years ago, Andrea Newell wrote a piece for Triple Pundit about the Community Participation Initiative at The Arcadia Institute. We thought we would share it again as it still holds true today. We appreciate Andrea’s article.

Gurlz of Color a New Partnership for The Arcadia Institute

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

We are very excited to announce that The Arcadia Institute is beginning a new partnership with the Media Arts Academy Gurlz of Color Program. Beginning this month, we will be working with 8 middle school aged “Gurlz” from Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Last Spring, Deborah Warfield, Executive Director of the Media Arts Academy approached us about doing Community Brokering with girls in Gurlz of Color. Deborah formerly worked as a Community Broker for The Arcadia Institute. She knows that the process successfully helps people with disabilities to be more deeply connected to their community. While these girls may or may not have visible disabilities, they have needs that are often unmet through other educational and out-of-school programs.

This past weekend the Gurlz completed an orientation retreat at Eagle Lake. They enjoyed good food, beautiful surrounding, fellowship and an introduction to Community Brokering. In pairs, the Gurlz shared stories from their lives that demonstrate their unique strengths, gifts and talents. They each created a picture/logo for their new friends.

These are Gurlz of Color who will be “Set 4 Life” through this program and Community Brokering.



People who Make a Difference

The blog was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

At the recent Connect Kalamazoo meeting, Deborah Warfield made some comments in tribute to George Martin former President of The Arcadia Institute. Deborah noted that there were four of us at that meeting who had been greatly inspired to leadership by George:

Deborah Warfield, Executive Director of The Media Arts Academy and Gurlz of Color
Allison Kennedy, Executive Director for Fire Historical and Cultural Center
Michele Momotiuk, Administrative Assistant of The Arcadia Institute
Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute

George always calls out the best in people that he works with and challenges them to continually develop their leadership abilities. He asks questions about what we value and what we want to see happen in our community beyond the current job positions we hold. In looking back at past blogs written by George, I found this one about Community Participation and thought in tribute it would be worthwhile to share it again.

At the Arcadia Institute and through Connect Kalamazoo we continue to work to support the community to be responsible for welcome people with disabilities as participants and employees.

For more information you can contact Allison Hammond at or 269-217-2205

We Need Everyone’s Gifts

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

So you haven’t got a drum, just beat your belly.
So I haven’t got a horn-I’ll play my nose.
So we haven’t any cymbals-
We’ll just slap our hands together,
And though there may be orchestras
That sound a little better
With their fancy shiny instruments
That cost an awful lot-
Hey, we’re making music twice as good
By playing what we’ve got!”
– Shel Silverstein

This is one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein that presents in a whimsical manner why we need one another. I thought I would share it for the blog this week.

Also, as I was looking for articles about the importance of diversity in our communities, I stumbled across this wonderful website, Radiant Abilities and it’s blog. I wanted to share it with you.

Working Toward a Tipping Point: Competitive Employment for People with Disabilities

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

On a very positive note, through The Arcadia Institute Community Brokering and other programs such as Project Search, it feels like there is a growing movement toward a tipping point in Kalamazoo around employment of people with disabilities. The more that people with disabilities are successfully employed the more stigmas and barriers to competitive employment for people with disabilities are being questioned.

Since 2012, The Arcadia Institute through Community Brokering has been working towards supporting people with disabilities to find meaningful Activity, independent living arrangements and competitive employment. We have found that the community is quite open to people with disabilities participating in recreation, leisure, volunteer and other activities that are meaningful. In general, we can find independent living solutions that allow people to live in situations more of their choosing. Then we come to competitive employment which is defined as working at least part time at least minimum wage. We have had some success in this arena.

However, as we encounter business owners and employers, we still find that there are stigmas for people with disabilities. We find that people will say, “Can’t those people go work at such and such program?” “Aren’t there places for people like that?” “We don’t have time to make accommodations to support people with disabilities.”

We do want to say that these comments are not in anyway mean spirited or meant to down play their concern that people with disabilities deserve to have full lives in the community, including employment. It is simply that we as a society perpetuate these notions that people with disabilities are “other” and need to work at special places when we create sheltered workshops and groups of people with disabilities working under the supervision of a specialist.

Please consider this article about Sheltered Workshop Reform

If you have any questions or want more information about The Arcadia Institute please contact Allison Hammond at 269-217-2205 or