Nancy Cummings Webster's commitment to The Arc began as a little girl in the Chicago suburbs. Nancy recalls vividly learning she was a big sister, in 1954 when the Cummings family welcomed Martha, who was born with intellectual disabilities.
From the moment Martha was born, in a time when institutional care was often the first, and, perhaps, only choice, the Cummings family lived by the extraordinarily supportive words of one of Martha's pediatricians: "The best thing you can possibly do for your child is take her home and love her." And, with little understanding of the challenges that lay ahead, that is exactly what they did.
As members of a pioneering generation of parents and advocates, Nancy's parents led by example, engaging Nancy in thoughtful discussion about supporting and learning with Martha, creating the special role of a sibling.
As Martha grew, her family met with representatives of The Arc as well as researchers from The University of Chicago to be more actively engaged in Martha's development. In 1967 when the Cummings moved to Indiana, finding a chapter of The Arc was the first priority. Fifty years later, Martha continues to be connected to a local Indiana chapter.
"Because of my early family experience, I have always known The Arc," Nancy admits proudly - and for good reason: the Cummings recognized The Arc as a leader in excellence and best practices, turning to the organization in various times of need. Nancy and her whole family believe deeply that The Arc must be there for families for generations to come - to support them, to advocate for and with them, and to educate them.
Today Nancy, her husband Bob, and their entire family remain committed to The Arc. Having joined The Arc's National Board of Directors in 2001, Nancy served as Board President from 2012-2014, often sharing her story, and those of other families, with local chapters of The Arc. "I learned a lot about families as I visited those chapters", says Nancy. "And the consistently strong message is: "The Arc is SO supportive of my family. The Arc is there for us." As Nancy and Bob make their own future plans, supporting The Arc is essential. To give back to an organization that has given them so much, The Webster's have included The Arc in their wills, and they encourage others to do so too. "We want to protect the sustainability of The Arc. We want to be there for The Arc as it has been there for all families."