Breaking news: the Laker Girls have been confirmed for the March 27 Arc Walk for Independence.For the developmentally disabled clientele of Arc, or "consumers" as they are called, this is wonderful news. At Arc, optimism abounds. As reported in last week's newspaper, funding and contributions at Arc have fallen to critical levels, the result of a nation-wide recession and state-wide fiscal catastrophe. So when I paid a visit this week to see first-hand how the budget crisis is affecting Arc and its consumers, I was shocked at how happy everyone was. In fact, during a chat with executive director Kevin MacDonald, very little was mentioned about funding. Most of the conversation revolved around the progress Arc has made in the last 12 months, including: •The cafeteria was remodeled into a banquet hall, complete with chandeliers, high-end tile floor and available industrial kitchen. The hall, which is available for rent, is nice enough to host wedding receptions and quinceaneras. MacDonald hopes the hall will also be rented out for luncheons, corporate events, even Super Bowl parties. •The new Southeast Conference Center is smaller than the banquet hall and can accommodate upwards of 30-40 people. The room is state-of-the-art with a 100-inch projection screen, full surround sound, full DVD, VHS and laptop options, free Wi-Fi access and nine configurable training tables. Onsite catering services are available, with food prepared by Arc consumers. •Arc has entered into a partnership with the Los Angeles Sparks to host a "Rally for Respect" day at Staples Center. On the Sparks' home opener, Arc consumers will greet ticket-holders as they enter Staples Center. Consumers will then be taken center-court where they will lead the crowd in a rally. •Arc received the highest honor from the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. •Arc is in talks with a "five-star Los Angeles resort and hotel" which is interested in hiring Arc consumers. Details are being worked out, MacDonald said. The list goes on and it's clear why the people of Arc (both staff and consumers) are happy: progress is tangible. Arc is not using any excuses to slow down its efforts in assisting people with developmental disabilities. It is not crying "Woe is me" and waiting for a bailout. Sponsors "didn't blink an eye" to support this year's Arc Walk, MacDonald said. Now it's our turn to show our support to Arc. We will walk March 27. Registration for the Arc Walk for Independence is $10 per person or $30 for a family. Children 10 and under are free. Registration will be accepted on-site at Stonewood Center. The walk begins at 8 a.m.
********** Published: March 12, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 47