Arc of Jefferson & Nearby Counties mark 44th yearDevelopmental Disabilities Awareness observed in March
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and also the 44th anniversary of The Arc of Jefferson & Nearby Counties.
On March 8, 1973, 14 parents and concerned persons met in the First National Bank community room and organized what was then known as Jefferson County Association for Retarded Children.
The purpose of ARC was to serve as advocates and offer meaningful support and services to children who were intellectually challenged. Two representatives of the state affiliate and Jefferson County’s first public health nurse, the late Lois Brokken, are credited for the success of that meeting.
Now in 2017, a few of the original 14 are still involved with the group, while several are deceased.
Also, around that same time, the Jefferson County Satellite of Tenco Industries started, with help and support of several of The Arc members.
The Arc is a nonprofit advocacy and service organization of people concerned about children and adults who are developmentally disabled. Members include parents, families, friends, community leaders, professionals, and adults who are intellectually or otherwise developmentally disabled.
What is now known as The Arc of Jefferson & Nearby Counties has gone through several name changes, each change followed that of the national and state affiliates. Historically, the name has gone from Jefferson County Association for Retarded Children to Jefferson County Association for Retarded Citizens since children and adults were being served, then to Association for Retarded Citizens of Jefferson County, so that all three levels of the organization — national, state and local — were identified by the same name.
The change to The Arc in 1992 removed labeling through the word “retarded” from the name of the organization.
Some of the most popular projects of The Arc locally are sponsoring children and adults to attend Camp Courageous, and to fund participation in various sports activities of Special Olympics.
Another would be offering a $500 college scholarship to an area high school senior who has special developmental needs, as well as a $500 scholarship to an area individual attending college and directing his or her education toward working with individuals who are developmentally disabled.
Some of the more memorable fund-raising history of The Arc locally would be the Country Music Shows held at Fairfield Middle School and coordinated by the late Jerry Hendricks, and, more recently, the Super Skate that involved over 1,300 different skaters such as long-time Super Skater Don Stevens.
Some of The Arc’s more recent fundraising is its annual raffle and silent auction held at itsbooth during the Greater Jefferson County Fair.
But The Arc credits the largest support in every way throughout its 44 years has come from the community, with special help in creating awareness given by the media in Fairfield and surrounding areas.