Northeast Arc recently honored three employees celebrating 30 years of service with the agency: Suzanne Ryan, director of volunteer services, Martha Levine, program director for Early Intervention Cape Ann, and Katie Gauthier, residential program director. Each received a painting by ArcWorks artists Polyvios Christoforos or Kara Moccia. Learn more about each of these amazing employees below!
Spirit of Volunteerism Lives on Through Suzanne Ryan
Suzanne Ryan was introduced to Northeast Arc “totally by accident,” but it turned into a match 30 years’ strong.
Ryan, who had been living in Revere at the time, saw a posting in the (Lynn) Daily Item for a part-time position.
“My youngest was 4 at the time, so I was hesitant about 20 hours, but they said ‘how would you like to do 10 hours a week as a volunteer coordinator?’ and that was a good comfort level for me,” she said. “I was already active with the school PTA and as a library trustee, so it allowed me to continue with all of that. Looking back, it felt like it was my calling.”
Ryan eventually took on more hours and accepted a full-time role. As director of Volunteer Services, she is responsible for recruiting and matching volunteers for one-time projects or ongoing commitments. Volunteers serve a variety of roles, such as helping out with the bowling and basketball teams or with recreation activities such as BINGO. They also serve on committees, participate in community service projects, lend their skills by teaching a workshop or helping out with fundraisers. There are also opportunities for volunteers to lend an extra hand in the First Steps Childcare Center or the ArcWorks studio.
“It’s wonderful to be able to connect people with our participants and open their eyes,” said Ryan. “To me, that’s a big part of my mission.”
Though the pandemic limited the number of volunteers that could serve Northeast Arc, Ryan said some traditions were able to live on.
“Before COVID, we had Sunday night BINGO for 20 years, once a month, with different youth groups coming in,” she said. “We ended up continuing BINGO through Zoom and it was great. It really connected all of us.”
Originally from Queens, N.Y., Ryan relocated to New England when she married. She has a background in psychology. She has two children and two grandchildren and lives in Lynn.
Martha Levine Helps Children and Families Alike
For more than 30 years, Martha Levine has focused on the youngest population served by Northeast Arc.
Levine is director of the Cape Ann Early Intervention (EI) program, which provides integrated developmental services to families of children up to age 3.
“Early intervention was always a draw for me because it’s such a critical period,” said Levine. “The brain is developing at such a rapid pace, and you’re able to make tremendous changes with this age population. The work you do affects the child for the rest of his or her life.
“I also like that it’s family-centered,” she continued. “You’re coaching parents and teaching them strategies to help their child in their home which results in the family feeling competent and confident as a parent.”
Levine oversees a team of professionals, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, social workers and developmental therapists, who provide home visits, center-based visits, assessments, parent-child groups, parent support groups, service coordination, referral and transition assistance.
With an office in Beverly, the Cape Ann program serves Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Magnolia, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.
Levine, who has a background in physical therapy, started out in outpatient pediatrics and later transitioned to the school setting and private practice. She did some per-diem work with Northeast Arc before joining the staff full-time in 1992. She was hired as a physical therapist, later accepted a supervisor role and has served as an EI director for 22 years.
A Beverly resident, Levine has two sons—one of whom has special needs and has received supports from Northeast Arc. Having been in this line of work, she said, helped prepare her for finding the right services for him.
Levine is also a board member of the Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium.
Family Affair for Residential Director Katie Gauthier
For 30 years, Katie Gauthier has been a fixture at Northeast Arc’s Peabody House.
Gauthier was hired by Northeast Arc at age 20. Her mother worked in the organization’s billing department, and the overnight shifts appealed to Gauthier, a single mother at the time. She later earned her associate’s degree in human services from North Shore Community College while working for Northeast Arc. She now serves as Residential Director of the Peabody House. She also manages the house on Mason Street in Salem.
“I enjoy having a purpose and doing a job that means something,” said Gauthier. “It’s amazing what we do—what our staff does—every day.”
The residential staff assist individuals with nursing case management and healthcare management, nutrition, life skills training, financial management, social activities and more.
For three years, Gauthier and her family, who live in Salem, also opened their home to a resident through Northeast Arc’s Shared Living Program. “My family has always been very involved with Arc,” Gauthier said. “It’s just the way life has always been, and I think it’s taught them a lot about how to interact with others.”
Gauthier’s daughter and niece have both benefited from early intervention services through Northeast Arc.
Having been with the organization for three decades, Gauthier says she has witnessed much progress. “Having strong female presence in our leadership is extraordinary,” she said.
There have also been major strides in the available technology.
“We started out with handwritten notes and paper time sheets,” she said. “And we had one computer to share between four houses. Obviously, a lot has changed.”
The one thing that has remained constant is the dedication of Northeast Arc’s employees. “The ability to care for our residents is second to none,” she said.