Special Needs Foundation disburses over $375,000



Client Tim Glenn pauses a moment amid sorting items as practice for future contract work at the Cleveland ARC workshop facility.

Client Tim Glenn pauses a moment amid sorting items as practice for future contract work at the Cleveland ARC workshop facility.

With renovations at the Cleveland workshop building leading the way, the Special Needs Foundation of Blount County (SNF) reported spending over $375,000 in the past fiscal year on Arc (formerly Association of Retarded Citizens) services. Arc of Jefferson County, which administers Arc programs in Blount County, purchased the Cleveland structure for use as a multi-purpose facility.

Over the past five years, what had been ARC of Blount County lost its state accreditation and had its services assumed by Arc of Jefferson County and its assets transferred. Some assets which were held by the Foundation of the ARC of Blount County, an Alabama nonprofit corporation which eventually became the Special Needs Foundation of Blount County, an Alabama nonprofit corporation. At its establishment, SNF held over $800,000 in care for Arc clients and services in Blount County. (The Blount Countian detailed these changes in a series of articles in the summer of 2008.)

Employees Anna Reeves and Pam Russell stand in the food bulk storage room at the Cleveland ARC workshop building.

Employees Anna Reeves and Pam Russell stand in the food bulk storage room at the Cleveland ARC workshop building.

With the Cleveland Arc purchase, SNF stepped in to cover the nearly quarterof a-million-dollar renovation and adaptation of the building for Blount County needs. The facility provides storage for bulk food purchases, a conference room, some administrative services, and a workshop training room. Local Arc director Mike Mitchell and SNF board president Chris Green anticipate great things for the workshop.

Green, who previously visited a similar facility in Jefferson County, hopes the workshop can provide employment opportunities for Arc clients. Workers in the Jefferson building perform laborintensive activities for various contractors. Green explains that these neighboring clients have assembled hospitality packs, placing styrofoam cups, sweeteners, stirrers, and similar items for contracted hotels and motels. They have also done similar nail, nut, bolt, and screw tasks for large hardware and building supply companies for resale. At other times, they have sorted and reworked clothes hangers for cleaners.

These relatively simple tasks have provided income and pride for Arc clients. Green relates the story of one of his visits to the nearby county and the excitement a client had at receiving his weekly paycheck. He and Mitchell hope to see busi-

See FOUNDATION, pg A3 nesses establish relationships with the Cleveland center. They dream of entrepreneurs identifying tasks to provide Blount Countians with gainful employment and increased self-reliance. Until those contracts arrive, Arc clients practice at Cleveland, honing sorting and other job skills.

Besides the more than $220,000 renovation, SNF provided transportation vans exceeding $68,000. Those vans offer a means for clients to receive services at the main Oneonta Arc facility, experience fieldtrips to various local sites, and even to make occasional trips out of county or state for other enrichment. Enrichment activities require more than transportation, and SNF contributed over $12,500 toward that. These have included trips to Barons and Braves games, Gulf Shores, Chattanooga, Gatlinburg, and Nashville.

SNF provided over $58,000 for renovations of the houses and paving at the main Arc center located at the old fairgrounds in Oneonta. Beyond these expenses, SNF added almost $15,000 to assist with shortfalls in individual client accounts.

In addition to the Cleveland and Oneonta centers, Arc maintains several individual houses within local municipal communities and a Cleveland nursing home facility exclusively for the elderly mentally retarded. SNF holds deeds to burial plots for use of Blount County clients along with its liquid assets.