Rewards of working with developmentally disabled adults

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ARC Pic8.jpg

By Nina Crowder

Arc Thrift Store, pronounced “ark,” is a facility located at 316 Alden Road in Kearny that is giving developmentally disabled adults as young as 22 the opportunity to learn skills, work attitudes and behaviors, all of which help aid in the productivity of enriching their lives.

The Arc center has qualified, friendly staff members to help ensure the training and care of the developmental disabled adults. Important things like completing a task, good grooming, cooperating with others and following instructions are to name a few of the skills taught at Arc center. The Arc vocational center has the comforts of home including lounge rooms, work rooms, lunch rooms and an outdoor yard for barbecuing including a basketball court.

Rosalind Padilla was a Home Economics Teacher for five years before she became a special education teacher and has been at the Arc center since it began, currently serving as a Board member for Arc Vocational Training Center. She said the Kearny Arc vocational center was the pilot program for the state, and if the program worked in Kearny, other counties would try the program.

The ground work for attempting to get this vocational training started actually began in 1969. It was the perseverance of parents and students that were instrumental and dedicated to getting the vocational program started. The Arc vocational training program was opened around 1976, when the funds finally became available for the program.

Rosalind’s students have stayed with her for many years. The oldest student currently is 73 years of age. With students from all over eastern Pinal, the thrift shop has been in working order since they started the adult center, allowing students to function and be a productive part of society.

The funding for Arc was established through the state which became the entity known as Department of Economic Security (DES) the funds provided are required to be matched dollar for dollar through the Arc vocational center. The funding is similar to that of the school programs, where Arc vocational center is paid according to the days the students are present.

The students of Arc vocational center run the Arc thrift shop, a housekeeping crew, janitorial services and yard work crews. The students are very positive and enjoy their work.

Not only do they receive paychecks and handle their own banking, but the students do errands for their families and pick up their own groceries and prescriptions.

The Arc students are active in the community and the community members know them and enjoy having them around. There is a good feeling of warm camaraderie with the students and community.

The center currently has no specific fundraisers, but it has been fortunate enough to have frugal leaders on the Board of Directors which has helped keep the program going.

In the earlier years, the Arc vocational center was successful in having the adults in the program making and selling many crafts. At one time they even had nice woodworking tools, saws and other equipment that they made quality wood crafts and specialty items for five years.

The Department of Economic Security initially disapproved of Arc students making crafts, but recently found out that it may be productive. Padilla said for many years the Arc center students would earn a stipend from sorting and packing nuts, bolts, and screws.

There are many other programs in different areas of the state that are experiencing financial problems and are closing the programs down.

As the Kearny Pioneer Days approach, there is an Arc work crew of four boys who will be cleaning Pioneer Park each day for the four day festival. These gentlemen are very proud of the job they do and excited to be helping.

The Arc director, Frances Chavez and the staff take the Arc students once a week shopping, luncheons, picnics and other outings. The Arc students have participated in Special Olympics, they enjoy attending Diamondback games, they all enjoy dancing and the county takes them to different functions where they can dance with other groups.

Currently, the Arc Arizona has over 1000 members with 10 local chapters. If you wish to learn more about the Arc programs in Arizona, you can obtain information on the website

Those that visit the Kearny Arc Thrift Shop will be greeted by friendly and helpful adults who have a wonderful outlook on life. Those with the need for yard work, janitorial services or housekeeping can contact the Arc at (520) 363-5581 or (520) 363-5582.

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