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Leading the fight for the developmentally disabled

Daryl Ann Cook-Ivan’s social service work began in 1980 as a social worker at Wrentham State School.
Paul E. Kandarian
Daryl Ann Cook-Ivan’s social service work began in 1980 as a social worker at Wrentham State School.

What drew Daryl Ann Cook-Ivan to the job as executive director at the Weymouth-based The Arc of the South Shore 11 years ago is the same thing that she loves about the job now: the developmentally disabled people the agency serves.

Paul E. Kandarian
The Arc of the South Shore is based in Weymouth.

“When you look at the history of people with these disabilities, in the old days they never had rights, they never had visibility,” Cook-Ivan said recently. “Agencies like ours give them that voice. We talk about how Arc is a civil rights movement, a human rights movement. Arc nationwide has done a lot to make these people more visible in the community.”

Cook-Ivan’s social service work began in 1980 as a social worker at Wrentham State School. As director of The Arc of the South Shore, she leads about 220 employees in providing services to roughly 750 families a year through a variety of programs.

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The newest is the organization’s Autism Resource Center, founded in 2016 and run out of its Weymouth headquarters until an off-site facility can be funded, Cook-Ivan said.

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The Arc’s sixth annual summer gala, scheduled for June 14, is the agency’s annual major fund-raising effort and one that Cook-Ivan hopes will raise about $230,000 for the new center.

“The need is there -- the Centers for Disease Control just released new data that shows one in 59 children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum,” she said. “We felt we needed this resource; there are six autism centers in the state, but there was a gap here.”

The Arc has always helped people with autism and their families, but to a lesser degree than now with the creation of the resource center, Cook-Ivan said. “It was probably less than 10 percent of who we work with, but now the number of families we’ve dealt with since we started it is close to 400,” she said.

And it all makes “every day different,” she said of her work. “The people here are terrific, and I feel we’re doing something with purpose. It’s tangible, and it brings a quality of life to people who, if we weren’t here, might not have it.”

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at Pkandarian@aol.com.