Recognizing The Importance of Connection

We all know that The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) helps good people do great things. As a local nonprofit, this has never been more true. The CFMC awarded us $5,000.00 for our Adult Skill Development and Leisure Program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). During a time when foundations and donors have diverted their funding to emergency COVID-19 needs, many community nonprofits have found themselves struggling more than ever to keep their programs running.

Director Lisa Christensen (top middle) gathers with participants and their families for a virtual take on their Crazy Hat Day.

“We’re grateful to the Community Foundation for recognizing the significant role our Adult Skill Development and Leisure program and others like it plays in the lives of people with I/DD. For many of our participants, this has been their only contact outside of their immediate family or household during these difficult times,” said President/CEO Linda Iovanna. According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), people with I/DD are at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 and have poorer outcomes. “Families and caregivers and residential providers are extremely cautious, and rightfully so. We all know that folks in congregate settings are a high-risk group, and their underlying conditions make matters worse,” Iovanna added.

Although we have been unable to run the community-based program as we had pre-pandemic, MARC quickly adapted and ran programs virtually, keeping participants connected to alleviate their feelings of isolation. Now that more and more people are getting vaccinated and nicer weather is upon us, we will switch to a hybrid model and begin with one-on-one and small group outdoor activities, slowly increasing the group sizes. According to the program director Lisa Christensen, “it’s a juggling act, not everyone is vaccinated, and there are different comfort levels as far as group sizes and types of activities. We’re working with everyone involved to find the best solution. Though one thing is certain; they’re ready to come back.

One of participants’ favorite activities is tending to the rooftop gardens at the CHC with the Middletown Garden Club.

The program provides community-based leisure activities that create teachable moments to aid in participants’ social and communication skills and other daily living skills. Today, for people with I/DD, readjusting to a post-COVID-19 “normal” life is a new challenge, and MARC is uniquely positioned to address these challenges.

Community Foundation of Middlesex County’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the County now and in the future by developing endowments, making grants that have impact, and assisting donors in meeting their philanthropic objectives. The grant awarded to MARC was possible by the generosity of the Elizabeth Swaim Middletown Fund, Middlesex Enhancement Fund, and the Edmund T. and Barbara S. Delaney Fund.

If you would like to learn how you can positively impact your community visit the CFMC’s website at or MARC Community Resource’s website at

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Male client tending to plants in raised gardens