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Marblehead philanthropist helps Arc fight coronavirus

DANVERS — Steven P. Rosenthal gave development disability assistance agency Northeast Arc $1 million in 2017 and now he is helping the Peabody organization fight coronavirus.

The Marblehead resident has committed to donating $100,000 to the Northeast Arc if the organization can raise the same amount or more from other donors through an emergency challenge grant by April 30.

“The emergency needs of Northeast Arc to support the most vulnerable people in our community during this crisis merit our strong and immediate support,” said Rosenthal. “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the ingenuity of the Northeast Arc under the leadership of Jo Ann Simons. The organization is constantly looking for innovative ways to improve the lives of people with disabilities, even during this critical time.”

Simons, Northeast Arc’s president and CEO, said the organization has incurred coronavirus expenses, including $200,000 for personal protective equipment, which Northeast Arc was able to secure early in this crisis and should receive within two weeks.  

The agency will share these masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields with other Arc’s and human service agencies in Massachusetts. Northeast Arc ordered 630 jugs of hand sanitizer through a special arrangement with Massachusetts company Tobacco Road Distillers, and shared the supply with more than two dozen health and human service agencies across Massachusetts earlier this week.

“An Evening of Changing Lives, our biggest fundraiser of the year which we expected to raise more than $700,000, was set for early May and had to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Simons. “We have to make up this revenue and more during this urgent need for our services. Steve’s generosity and challenge to our valued donors couldn’t come at a more important time as we respond to the urgent needs of our employees who are providing the front line services needed by our clients during this emergency.”

Northeast Arc also transformed one of its buildings into a respite center for staff members working with people infected by the virus to provide an optional place for them to stay if they are concerned about exposing their loved ones. 

This specially-designated building allows employees to take both a physical and mental break from their responsibilities while alleviating concerns about being at home.

“The Northeast Arc has been innovative since its inception when family members met in church basements because the stigma associated with disabilities at the time,” said Simons. “Our innovative spirit continues and our current crisis is not going to stop us from doing what needs to be done to support the people we serve.”

It was Rosenthal in 2017 who donated $1 million to Northeast Arc to create the Changing Lives Fund. According to Rosenthal’s website, he previously served as co-managing member at Mintz Levin, a 500-lawyer Boston-based firm with a national clientele roster. 

“Throughout his career, Rosenthal has earned a respected reputation as a disruptive leader who positively impacts the projects he contributes to,” stated the website.

Rosenthal is credited, according to the website, with founding and developing the ArcTank, as well as the Changing Lives Fund. 

“A leader who favors inclusivity, Rosenthal believes strongly in the notion that every member of a community has something special to offer,” the site stated.

Northeast Arc helps children and adults with disabilities become full participants in the community and continues amidst coronavirus to serve its 15,000 clients in 190 Massachusetts cities and towns with 24-hour health care, tele-health, and a variety of ways to keep people engaged during this period of social distancing and self-isolation.

To donate to the Changing Lives Challenge Fund, which Steven P. Rosenthal will match the first $100,000 in donations, please go to: www.ChangingLivesChallenge.org.