Although Ben Harries’ affiliation with The Arc Central Chesapeake Region (The Arc) began as a professional relationship while he was working on a construction project, his interaction with the organization affected him profoundly on a personal level. Indeed, as Harries (one of several owners of a building contractor in Millersville) became acquainted with The Arc, a nonprofit organization that provides support and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, he acquired a deep respect and admiration for its mission and immediately knew that he had to become involved.
“My friend, Doug Siekman, an architect in Annapolis, asked our firm to participate in a construction project on The Arc’s headquarters building in Severn,” Harries explains. “So he introduced me to the organization, and I am so glad that he did. I had the opportunity to see a staff of dedicated people with the noble objective of treating people with disabilities as equals in a caring, loving manner and encouraging them to engage fully in the community. It was so inspiring to see the staff members have such a meaningful impact on people’s lives. My wife, Sarah, and I know people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, so this cause is near to my heart.”
Harries, who has been actively involved with The Arc for the past three years, is especially impressed by the organization’s leadership, and he believes that the staff members’ passion and service are akin to doctors and first responders. They are highly motivated professionals who are extremely driven and want to make a difference in people’s lives. He regards them as unsung heroes who aren’t necessarily recognized for the work they do. But that is exactly what makes them so special: They truly love what they do, and they don’t expect recognition for their valuable contributions.
An avid volunteer, Harries primarily dedicates his time to fundraising efforts and is very supportive of all of The Arc’s events. The organization’s major event is its annual golf tournament, which is held at The Golf Club at South River in Edgewater. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s tournament was postponed from its original date and rescheduled for September 28. For the latest updates, visit thearcccr.org.
His business, BuilderGuru Contracting, Inc., is the leading sponsor of the golf tournament, and since it is The Arc’s only event this year, Harries encourages donors and participants to step up more than ever to support the organization’s mission. Sponsorship opportunities are also available at the time of this writing. For additional information, visit the website or call The Arc’s Director of Development & Communications Catie Comer at 410-384-4072.
Harries and his team also strongly believe in giving back to the community and participate in events at The Arc. Last year, the company sponsored families at Christmas and chose gifts for them. Harries’ wife and their daughter, Isabelle, 12, also took part in the holiday festivities. This event was a great way to impact the families’ lives, and Harries was deeply moved when he saw both his employees and his family dedicate their time to make the holidays special for the families they sponsored.
“Ben has been an incredible advocate since he joined our cause,” says Jonathon Rondeau, CEO of The Arc. “He is constantly rallying his business, his family, and his community around The Arc. He cares deeply about our vision, and he advocates for our mission. Ben also opens doors for us and helps us deepen our roots in the community.”
“Ben is the person I know I can rely on,” Comer adds. “He’s always asking, ‘What do you need?’ [or] ‘What can I do to help?’ It doesn’t matter what it is. He finds a way to make it happen.”
At the time of writing, The Arc offices were closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, since it is an essential business, The Arc is still supporting people with disabilities and helping them live as independently as possible during the crisis. And although the circumstances are uncertain, Harries is not discouraged and is looking toward the future. In fact, he views the situation as an opportunity to assess the organization’s goals and elevate its strategies. Not surprisingly, he is determined to work together to recover and come back stronger than ever.
“Volunteering for The Arc has made me a kinder, gentler person,” Harries says. “And sometimes I get emotional and even tear up a bit. Seeing the impact that the staff members have on people’s lives is a moving experience that can really tug at my heartstrings. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help this phenomenal organization, and I am deeply devoted to the cause. It’s definitely become a lifelong commitment for me.”
Read the original article from What’s Up? Media, here. Article by Lisa Lewis.