ARC offers services and support to enhance the quality of life for people with mental or physical impairments through providing interdependence, friendship, choice and respect.
ARC of Kentucky holds a vision of a positive future for individuals with mental retardation, a future of communities with services and supports that will promote lives of value for Kentuckians with physical handicaps and mental retardation. ARC advocates say individuals with impairments are contributing members to schools, work places, churches, neighborhoods and their communities.
Rebecca Rowlett, an Independent Living Specialist with Pathfinders, said improved accessibility and impairment awareness are needed in Harlan County.
"The organization is about giving rights to people with mental and physical disabilities," Rowlett said. "ARC helps their voices be heard."
Rowlett said the county faces mobility and accessibility problems for people with disabilities, and that the local chapter, which will be called ARC of the Mountains, will petition stores and other buildings for handicap-friendly entryways. Besides providing support groups and counseling, ARC of the Mountains also plans to make strides for better transportation opportunities for the mentally and physically challenged.
Patty Dempsey, executive director for ARC of Kentucky, was in town last week to help the local chapter conduct its first organizational meeting. Board members were also selected, which include Joe Ellen Hale, president; Rowlett, vice-president; and Toni Howard, secretary and treasurer. Members also signed up to be a part of the chapter, but, according to Rowlett, 10 are needed for chapter certification.
"We just want Harlan Countians to know about ARC, what we stand for and how we can help," Rowlett said. "We know there's a lot of families out there who could benefit from us, use our advice and encouragement. We'd like to see as many as possible become a part of our group."
ARC of the Mountains will be having its second meeting Oct. 16 at the Pathfinders office located on East Mound Street in Harlan. For more information, contact the office at 573-5777.
"It's important for people who face more challenges in life to still maintain their independence," Rowlett said. "That's our ultimate goal to help those with disabilities to be able to enjoy life to the fullest, without having to shut themselves off from the world."