Arc marks 40th year with expanded services

Michelle Stuckey
August 05, 2011 at 9:19 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Along with sorting and wrapping recycled Mardi Gras beads, disabled citizens at the Arc are also given the chance to work in the yard maintenance and janitorial fields.
Thelezia Folse
Along with sorting and wrapping recycled Mardi Gras beads, disabled citizens at the Arc are also given the chance to work in the yard maintenance and janitorial fields.
Forty years ago, the St. Charles Women’s Club began a small project to help local families who had members that were mentally or physically disabled.

Since then, the six-family group has grown into the Arc of St. Charles, an organization that supports over 230 individuals throughout seven parishes.

“As I think upon the obstacles overcome by many of the individuals we serve and the strong wills that they exhibit, I continue to get energized to keep pressing forward and keep the passion burning,” said Victoria Bryant, executive director of the Arc of St. Charles. Bryant’s main goal is to empower the staff of the Arc to dream a dream for the person they support.

The group’s activities have also come a long way. When founded, activities included woodworking, ceramics, planting and other crafts that provided group participation and a place for special needs children to make friends and have fun.

Today, not only does the non-profit organization offer a place for disabled parishioners and their families to gather together, but it also offers supported employment to them and mobile work crews to the community. Hope Enterprises, part of the Arc, focuses on shredding paper, and sorting and wrapping recycled Mardi Gras beads. Another arm of the group, Healthy Cleaning Krewe, offers janitorial and grass maintenance services to the parish. And the organization’s

Cajun Village Thrift Store raises money for the Arc and gives members an opportunity to train in retail sales.
The Arc celebrated its 40th anniversary in July during a “Keep the Passion Burning” gala.

“We will keep knocking on doors to aide us in pursuing and making dreams come true for all of the individuals we serve,” Bryant said. “Some people simply want a job or to learn how to swim…some just want someone to know that although they can’t speak, they have a voice inside.

“Some are just saying ‘I’m more than my disability.’”

Bryant said that the board of directors for the Arc is currently planning a five-year and 10-year long-range strategic action plan, and they are looking for ideas from people in the public who would be willing to support the agency through objective thinking.

For more information on the Arc of St. Charles, visit www.arcofstcharles.com.




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