Baltimore resident honored by The Arc


— As a member of The Arc Baltimore, Erica Vince has supported a crew of three women working at the Chatsworth School cafeteria, helping children and cleaning up after meals in the lunchroom for the past decade.

Vince, who grew up and still lives in Forest Park, has been lauded by the nonprofit as a steady influence who is depended upon by supervisors and crew members to keep things moving smoothly even on the most chaotic of days.

As a result, officials say, she and the crew have become an integral part of the Chatsworth school family. Also, Vince has been presented with the Arc Baltimore’s Excellence in Direct Support Award.

The honor is given each year to a direct support professional whom officials said demonstrates excellence in job performance.

“It was a great honor for me, especially knowing that the family of one of the ladies I support nominated me,” Vince said. “I’m so happy knowing I’m having a positive impact on her and the family. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’m here.”

The Arc Baltimore supports more than 6,000 adults and children with intellectual and development disabilities and their families. In a news release, officials say Vince is greatly valued by the families of the women she supports.

Arc officials cited one individual named Julia who is a crew member along with Vince. They said when Julia’s brother was hospitalized and their mother needed to be there, Vince stepped in and stepped up.

The Chatsworth cafeteria employee took Julia’s mother out, keeping her company during the family’s hard time. Vince also dropped off dinners and provided emotional assistance to the family and she is credited with helping Julia to “come out of her shell,” and even helped plan outings to places like Six Flags Amusement Park, according to Arc officials.

Still, Vince says the recognition caught her off guard.

“I was totally surprised. I opened the letter [the Arc sent informing of the award] and I started yelling and jumping around,” said Vince, who views her work and support of others as fun.

“It’s fun, fun and more fun. I love working with my three ladies,” she said. “I always try to have a positive attitude and help the ladies I work with to also have a great attitude in their work at the school.”

She says Julia is usually very quiet and she has worked to assist and inspire her.

“I’ve bonded with her family too. They are beautiful people,” Vince said.

Each year, The Arc Baltimore holds its annual meeting which provides a unique opportunity to recognize members of The Arc’s family— from individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members to staff, supporters and area businesses— whose work is instrumental to The Arc’s continued success in serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, the executive director of The Arc Baltimore, Stephen H. Morgan said in a statement.

This year proved to be no exception as The Arc Baltimore presented awards for volunteer service, school inclusion, and excellence in direct support, foster care excellence, and employee of the year, among others.

“The Arc is a special place. I met someone who has worked here for 40 years and she inspired me. Now I’ve been here 15 years,” Vince said. “I wasn’t planning on staying in [this] kind of work, but maybe this is my calling. It’s special to know that I have an impact on the individuals we serve. I’m not going to get rich doing this work but I’m rich in other ways.”