The ARC of Martin County was founded in 1956, with humble beginnings. At the time, resources to serve people with disabilities were nearly non-existent nationwide. The standard suggestion from doctors was to place a person with mental or severe physical disabilities into an institution.
A group of local parents and concerned citizens wanted to provide educational and training opportunities for persons with disabilities. Their dream was that a handicapped person could not only survive in society, but flourish. With a passion for changing the status quo, ARC quickly grew into a vital resource not only for families, but for schools, employers, and the larger community.
The ARC purchased its first group home in Stuart, Florida, and completed an addition to the property in 1987. The property is still in use today, providing housing to six adults with developmental disabilities who are all considered very low-income individuals.
The ARC has since opened an additional seven community-based homes with six residents living in each one. Designed to promote independence and community involvement, every home has highly-trained and passionate staff who work with each individual to assist them in achieving their fullest potential with activities of daily living such as household tasks, finance management, health and medical care, transportation, personal care, and recreation.
Supported Independent Living Program
While individuals in our group homes receive extensive support and assistance to live successfully in the community, ARC has also managed the Supported Independent Living Program since 1986, where residents are able to live in their own home or apartment and manage their own affairs.
Today, fifteen individuals are members of the Supported Living model, receiving minimal domestic assistance as well as oversight of income and expenses for these locations. It is a significant accomplishment for these residents to establish their independence through an ongoing rigorous training program. We are honored to play a small part in their success.
From renting to owning. Through the support of our donors and volunteer base, ARC took a bold step in 2004 and purchased the 12,000 square foot facility that had been previously rented. The purpose was to accommodate ARCs corporate offices as well as the Adult Day Training and Children's After-School programs, where participants are able to learn new skills daily, expand and enhance their opportunities to develop these skills, as well as give back to their community by volunteering for other community organizations.
Employment Services added. In 2005, ARC began providing supported employment services for individuals with disabilities, who want to enter the workforce, develop their job skills and earn a competitive wage. Participants work with an employment specialist who provides the tools and assistance necessary to develop their independence. This additional support creates greater opportunities for the individuals receiving residential services to be able to successfully achieve independence within the community.
Train-the Trainer. In 2006, the ARC of Martin County was designated by the State of Florida as an authorized Train-the-Trainer site for Supported Employment services, such as job coaching or developing disability job placement programs with employers. This distinguished recognition allows ARC to serve as a certified instructor for not only other chapters of the National ARC organization, but other disability providers throughout Florida. The ARC has since added, certified Train-the-Trainer programs in Behavior Assistant certification, PCM certification, Zero Tolerance, Core Competency and First Aide/Blood Bourne Pathogens certifications.
Facility expansion. ARC’s success has led to an increase in services that have grown to include a total of eight community based homes along with twelve core services and seven non-core services. This growth has led to the program operations maximizing every inch of our their 12,000 square foot building space. To address a much needed expansion to better serve the individual needs, ARC completed a renovation project in 2011.
The facility was modified to act as an emergency shelter for children and adults with special needs in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, accomplishing much needed renovations to bring the facility up to current hurricane codes.
We could not have accomplished our facility expansion without significant support from the community in both volunteer hours and in-kind donations. We also have a great deal of thanks to Representative William Snyder who spearheaded a $500,000 appropriation through the 2010 Florida State Legislature.
1.Successfully opened and operating a new Behavior Focus Home for individuals with developmental disabilities who are in need of a more intensive behavioral intervention plan to function independently within the community.
2.The ARC of Martin County successfully completed our inaugural year of Project Search, a national student internship program for students with special needs and a unique collaboration between ARC of Martin County, Martin County School Board, Martin Memorial Health System and HPS that places students in various health care settings in hopes of being hired in the healthcare industry. Program had an 85% hire ratio compared to the national average of 33%.
3.The ARC provided over 99,000 meals to people with developmental disabilities throughout 2011 and in 2012 the ARC will provide over 120,000 meals.
4.The ARC provided over 27,000 one-way trips to individuals that are elderly and/or persons with disabilities in 2011 and in 2012 the number of one-way trips to elderly and persons with disabilities will reach over 28,000.
5.Commercial Kitchen for program training and services was completed.
6.Four new vehicles were purchased, replacing four retired vehicles and two new vehicles were purchased expanding our fleet to 17 vehicles.
7.New multi-sensory room was built, completed and now operating serving children and young adults who have significant sensory deficits and behavioral challenges.
1. #1 Supported Employment Provider in the Treasure Coast Region to include Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties.
2. ARC establishes transportation contract with County Transportation Disdvantage program to provide for the medical transportation needs of of Martin County residents.
3. The ARC receives a special appropriation from the 2012 Florida Legislature to build an Outdoor Specialized Therapuetic Playground that will enhance the functions of the multi-sensory room.