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Who is the Arc?
The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1950, The Arc was comprised of a small group of concerned and passionate parents and community members who would be catalyst for changing the public perception of children with disabilities. For the past 60+ years, The Arc has continued to grow and evolve along with the changing needs and issues that people with disabilities and their families face.
Today there are more than 700 state and local chapters. The Arc works to provide more than 7.2 million Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunities and services to reach their greatest level of personal fulfillment and potential. Some of these services include employment, training, education, and independent living. The organization also addresses current legislative issues to maintain the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Our Local Chapter - The Arc of Central Plains
In the summer of 1966, it was apparent a support group for the parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Ellis County needed to be established. Dr. Jack King was instrumental in establishing The Arc of Central Plains' first meeting. At that time, the organization was named the Homer B. Reed ARC after the late Homer B. Reed who dreamed of having an organization to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. At this first meeting goals were set, including educating the public, establishing more schooling, and setting up a training center.
The Arc of Central Plains' first accomplishment was to open a day care for children with disabilities not yet old enough for public school. In the spring of 1967, the organization became affiliated with both the national and state Arc. Soon after, the goal of establishing a training center became a reality when renovations began on the old barracks building located on the FHSU campus. The Homer B. Reed Training Center was then completed in February of 1968.
As the training center grew, it discovered that it was able to operate on its own and soon separated from the parents group. At this time, the parents' organization changed their name to the Association for Retarded Citizens/Central Plains (commonly called the Central Plains ARC), thus not conflicting with the centers name. The name was again changed in 1997 to The Arc of Central Plains to coincide with the state and national organizations. The Homer B. Reed Training Center has continued to grow and today Northwest Kansas has five training centers. These five centers, including the Homer B. Reed Center, operate under the name of Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK). The day care facility first established is also still in existence, now known as The Hays Area Children's Center, and operates today on the site of the first training center.
When the Homer B. Reed Training Center was first established, a Ways and Means committee was organized to raise funds to maintain the centers operation. It was at this time that Lula Danielson, Ways and Means Chairperson, decided to hold a three-day basement sale in her home. She advertised for donations on KAYS radio's "party line". The response was so great that her basement was too small to hold all the donations. At that time, Farmers State Bank owned a vacant building on Main Street. It was agreed to allow the use of the building for the sale rent free, provided The Arc paid half the utilities. Because the sale was such a success and large amounts of merchandise remained, it was decided to hold a sale every Wednesday.
Soon the Thrift Shop was open three days a week. In 1973, it was evident that a much larger building was needed. A building on 11th street owned by Leo Dreiling was discovered. He offered to sell the building at a generous $25,000. He also agreed to personally finance the sale and donate $500.00 at the end of each year back to the Arc. In September 1973, the purchase was made and the Thrift Shop moved to the location, 116 E. 11th. The group also decided to keep the Thrift Shop open six days a week. The Thrift Shop began with four volunteers, Lula Danielson, Bernita Hammerschmidt, Alice Leiker, and Mickey Rupp. Today, many of the volunteers have been donating their time for more than a decade.
In 2015, the store once again relocated to a much-needed larger building at 600 Main Street. This allowed for the expansion of the sales floor and donation processing area. As a result, sales increased dramatically and donation volume did as well. The new location will also include a brand-new activity room for self-advocates in the Hays community. When complete, the room will be used for social activities as well as life skills and other training classes.
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