The Arc promotes inclusion and choice vigorously to allow individuals to become their most unique selves. This includes promoting the inalienable right to become totally immersed in one’s community of choice and to participate in the same activities as persons without disabilities. Arc will continue to promote self-determination by advocating for appropriate funding allocations as well as system changes that are effective in shifting control of resources for services to the customer and away from institutions. This includes lobbying in the school system, health and human services system, governmental system and in the legal system for self determination-quality services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities.
The Arc of the United States was established 50 years ago as the result of families wanting, needing and demanding services and supports for their family members. While the mission language has been updated from time to time, we have always been driven by a pledge to support the lives of people with disabilities and assure, through advocacy, a responsive, efficient system of services that is accountable to the people receiving supports and to the public. The Arc of the United States develops position statements on various important issues affecting the lives of persons with disabilities, to which the local chapters subscribe.
The core values of the Arc of the United States include diversity, democracy, people first, visionary leadership, community participation, integrity and excellence. The Arc is an organization made up of people with disabilities and their families, dedicated to reducing disparities for persons with disabilities as our primary mission. This is a civil rights organization for facilitating the best quality lives and social justice for persons with disabilities.
The Arc of NC is the largest advocacy organization in the state focused on improving the quality of life for all people with developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc of NC was among the first and most successful organizations to provide Supported Employment, Supported Living, Support Brokerage, Community Coaching, self-employment options, Employer of Record services, and corporate guardianship services.
The Arc of Mecklenburg County, Inc. a United Way organization, is a local affiliated chapter of Arc national and state, and is driven and managed by its board and membership. The Arc of Mecklenburg County, Inc. works diligently to promote individualized, community-based supports and services to people of all ages with developmental disabilities.
Services of the Arc of Mecklenburg County include case and class advocacy, support and outreach, information and referral, education and training, public awareness of disability and special projects.
For instance, in 2002-2003, the Arc of Mecklenburg’s Self-Determination/POWER project, with the NC DD Council and Local Management Entity, worked with adults with developmental disabilities and their families to organize financial and human resources to facilitate thoughtful life plans for living in a world not designed for their success. POWER project participants bought new homes, started businesses, gained financial stability, developed informal support networks and many other less radical successes. The Arc’s Self Determination/POWER project was an incubator for implementation of person-centered, cost effective, flexible services and is the model for all future service delivery for persons with developmental disabilities in Mecklenburg County, in accordance with the North Carolina Mental Health Reform plan.
The Arc Aktion Club is a partnership between three South Charlotte Kiwanis groups (Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville) and adult self-advocates who wish to perform community service projects. This very exciting club has just completed their first project, painting a mural on the fence at the Arc of Mecklenburg offices. The plan for the Aktion Club is to teach self-advocacy workshops and to complete several service projects in 2005.
The Arc sponsors workshops and educational programming along with media events and written materials to profile and promote the service provider network and good services for persons with disabilities. We educate the general community about issues that affect people with disabilities, through workshops, trainings, news articles, radio spots and Arc newsletter to reach diverse audiences. Advocacy at the state and federal levels is accomplished in conjunction with consumer members via their work in the legislature, regular visits to representatives, speeches before the Board of County Commissioners etc. Parents and professionals are taught about advocacy in various settings, such as schools, residential and health care programs.
The Arc partners with Council for Children's Rights to provide IEP trainings for professionals and parents, for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.
The Arc is always looking to develop new and innovative programming for our constituents. Give us a call or suggest a new project, and we will certainly consider finding funds to make great things happen for folks with developmental disabilities in Mecklenburg County. Thanks for your interest.
1953 - The Association for Retarded Children was started by Vita Bryant and others, mostly parents of children with disabilities.
1959 - Nevins Center was started as a sheltered workshop for individuals with moderate retardation, ages 16 and up.
1959 - Ramsey Kindergarten was started at Park Road Baptist Church.
1960 - The Arc, in cooperation with the Junior Women’s Club, sponsored the first day camp for children with mental retardation in Mecklenburg County. Twenty-six children were served.
1968 - Ground was broken for Phase One of the Center For Human Development. This new concept was to provide day care and other work for individuals with disabilities.
1971 - The Auxiliary for the Retarded, which assisted and supported individuals in the community with disabilities. Most of the members were not parents of children with disabilities.
1971 - The Arc filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina demanding appropriate education for children with mental retardation. The state Arc picked up the lawsuit after this.
1971 - Myers Street School was given to the “Trainable Retarded”, but the building was unsafe. This led to the starting of Metro School.
1973 - St. Marks was started by St. Marks Lutheran Church. This day program was for individuals with more severe retardation.
1974 - The first group homes were started.
1975 - Mecklenburg Respite Care started under the leadership of Arc President, Chuck Boles.
1976 - Metro School was started.
1976 - Public Law-142 was passed guaranteeing individuals the right to free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, regardless of type or degree of disability. The community colleges began serving those who had not received an appropriate education.
1978 - The Autistic Group Homes were founded.
1986 - Howell Center opened.
1986-1992 - During these years, Arc members were busy. They worked with legislators to facilitate building the Marion Diehl Recreation Center, they assisted the county in developing a centralized waiting list to document the need for residential services, and they started Operation Santa Claus, among other things.
1993 - Arc members received training in Circles of Friends and began the first circles in NC.
1995-1996 - A community liaison program through a grant from Elizabeth Crockett Fund was started to pair people with MR with volunteers from the community to help them learn to access their community. The program was turned over to RSS.
1995 - The Arc Dream Team (now The Advocates Powered Up), an adult self-advocacy group, was formed.
1995 - Formed a pilot project for First in Families, a program that uses cash grants, vouchers, and community resources to help people with MR and other DD meet their needs with less red tape.
1997 - Purchased 4 condos jointly with RSS.
1997 - Received grant from DD council to start My Future, My Choice, a program aimed at transitioning students with severe disabilities to help the find competitive employment.
1999 - Family Support Network of Mecklenburg County was started.
2002-2003 - Self-Determination/Power Project was developed and implemented. This pilot project was then turned over to RSS.
2003 - Latino Outreach activities, including education, advocacy and support group functions, were outsourced to a Lifespan employee.
2003 - Started Project IMPACT, a collaborative project with The Children’s Law Center. IMPACT provides a trained volunteer to accompany parents to their child’s IEP meeting.
2004 - Started Aktion Clubs, a joint venture with Kiwanis clubs. Started the Arc Leadership Initiative Project.
2005 - Partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in the community for individuals with disabilities and their families. Partnered with Substance Abuse Prevention Services and the Chemical Dependency Center to form a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Committee for Mecklenburg County.
2006 - Expanded the Aktion Club to North Mecklenburg. Formed a partnership with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Council for Children's Rights (previously the Children's Law Center & The Council for Children) and Disability Rights & Resources (formerly Programs for Accessible Living) to expand our Partners in Justice project to help individuals with disabilities avoid the criminal justice system and to learn their rights.
2007 - Coordinated and facilitated a successful WrightsLaw workshop at Queens University in partnership with the Council for Children’s Rights. 360 Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys attended for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. NICU project at Presbyterian comes back to life with the help of the United Way's Leading the Way Team. Habitat for Humanity Home for an adult lady with disabilities scheduled to be built by end of summer!