Before 2017, our programs operated separately and independently. They were even separated by the space they occupied in our building. Typically, people seeking services picked one program over another, rather than picking and choosing the particular program features they wanted ala carte.

But that didn’t work for some people. Some needed and wanted more than one service to reach their goals.

We are now presenting and offering of our programs and services differently. This makes it more likely a person will choose anything and everything she or he needs.

We call it (for now) Meaningful Day.

“It is about us being available and meeting individuals on their terms,” Craig Valone, Director of the Day Program, says. “We want to give people the opportunity to have a more fluid day and to take advantage of everything we offer.”

Persons seeking services define their Meaningful Day by envisioning what they want their days to look like, then choosing services accordingly.

“Why should a person be limited to one program versus another?” Director of ACT Career Services (ACS) Jessica Mahon asks. “Instead, we want to learn the dreams, hopes, and goals of the person seeking our services and go from there.”

This shift is not happening just at ACT. It is happening in provider agencies all across the country.

What’s it like?

If a person receives supports from ACS and works part-time, he or she can also choose to participate in our Day Program part-time.

In the Day Program, the person might choose to volunteer and participate in a cooking club. This provides an opportunity to further develop soft skills and gain valuable experience.

At work, the person starts to reach goals with more ease. His or her employer notices and increases the person’s assigned work hours.

With more work comes more income. That income gives the employee more flexibility and freedom to spend and make choices. He or she may choose to move into his or her own home along with needed support.

The person now lives more independently. This is his or her Meaningful Day.

This outcome is achieved not by restricting services to a specified place, or a limited time of day, or only on weekdays. This outcome is not achieved by staying in programmatic silos. Rather, people who need services can access them early in the morning, late in the evening, on a weekend, in the community (not our building), and with the people they choose.

Mahon says, “There is a quote: ‘How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.’ We want to provide a meaningful day so they can live a more meaningful life.”