DOWNEY - With funding and contributions at a record low, the Arc of Southeast Los Angeles County is counting on its 14th annual Arc Walk on March 27 to help raise awareness, hope and financial support for its many participants and programs.Since the economic downturn, the 54-year-old organization has suffered due to a decrease in donations from the community and a lack of funding from state agencies, but Executive Director Kevin MacDonald hopes this year's Arc Walk for Independence will cultivate both hope and money. "We are absolutely struggling like never before," said MacDonald. "But we have a huge responsibility to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to provide them with the highest quality of life." Founded in 1956, the non-profit Arc of Southeast Los Angeles County in Downey provides vital services and training for over 400 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. From job training to basic education classes, the Arc offers its participants several programs to help support their full inclusion and participation in all aspects of the community. "We don't want them to sit at home on the couch all day," said MacDonald. "They're incredible human beings - they deserve help from the greater community. We want to change that mindset that they can't do anything - they are worthy of decent programming." Since 1997, the organization has hosted the Arc Walk for Independence, which provides both a 1 and 3 mile route for registered walkers who donate $10 to the Arc. Starting at Acapulco Restaurant and Cantina, the walk travels west on Firestone Blvd. to Lakewood Blvd., up to Florence Ave., around to Woodruff and back to Firestone. "It's a very unifying morning for people - to walk with people of disabilities," MacDonald said. "I love it because we're educating people. It's really not about the money - it's about a morning of giving hope to people who don't get a lot of hope 364 days of the year." Despite economic challenges, the Arc Walk is still being supported by major corporations and companies who not only give monetary donations, but also send employees to attend the event. This year's walk is being sponsored by LA County Supervisor Don Knabe who donated $10,000 to the organization. Also, Coca-Cola, Wescom Credit Union, Century 21 My Real Estate Co., All American Home Center and Stonewood Center are just some of the dozens of companies and individuals banding together to support the annual walk. Although many corporations have pledged their support, MacDonald hopes the community will do the same. "Our financials are as tough as any small business right now, but if we do the right thing for these people, it will work out," he said. "We're grateful for our own families - now we need to reach out and help other families and their way of life."
********** Published: March 5, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 46