The Arc of Grays Harbor Bridges the Gaps for Individuals with IDD

The Arc of Grays Harbor is a nonprofit organization located in Aberdeen that advocates for and supports better quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). They provide supportive programs and services that promote the full inclusion and participation of the people they serve. The Arc is comprised of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, professionals and concerned members of the community.

Affiliated with the Arc of the United States, Arc of Grays Harbor serves people in the Grays Harbor area. The Arc began in 1950, at a time when little was known about IDD, and as such, virtually no programs, activities, or resources existed to support the development and care of individuals with IDD or their caregivers and family members.

At the time, those with IDD were thought to be “uneducable” and schools were not required to provide an education to these individuals. The most common course of action was to send individuals to live in institutions, where little was done in the way of supporting their development. But many parents wanted more – they wanted their children to lead fulfilling lives in their own communities, with support and opportunities for development, growth, and inclusion. Through parental advocacy, The Arc was born.

The Arc of Grays Harbor Provides a Plethora of Services

The Arc of Grays Harbor Ribbon cutting
The Arc of Grays Harbor’s staff are knowledgeable, compassionate, and here to help you find the information, services, and resources you need. Photo courtesy: The Arc of Grays Harbor

The Arc recognizes the varying degrees of needs people with IDD have throughout their lives, and responds in kind by providing numerous services for individuals with disabilities as well as their families and caregivers, ranging from birth throughout the course of a lifetime. They offer pre-employment transition services where, upon graduating, an individual will be prepared to go to work, as well as life skills classes, social clubs, community engagement, parent-to-parent support, educational workshops for families, and a plethora of resources and guidance.

They have online videos on their YouTube channel and workshops on their website aimed to inform, support, and prepare individuals, families and caregivers. This gives people the knowledge they need to navigate the public systems and apply for disabilities services within their community, understand and prepare for life transitions, and so much more. 

The Arc has a new series of virtual educational workshops called “A Full Life Ahead,” with individual workshops that cover everything from navigating the systems to financial planning to guardianship. These workshops are free and available to anyone by registering online.

The Arc also has a Hispanic/Latino Coordinator who helps Spanish-speaking clients and families find the resources they need and work one-on-one with clients to help them achieve their goals.

Community Engagement is Vital for The Arc

Amber Cook, The Arc of Grays Harbor programs director, manages all program activities, including community engagement, summer youth employment, and monthly clubs. Photo courtesy: The Arc of Grays Harbor

The Arc believes that community inclusion is vital, and as such, they provide Community Engagement services that encourage self-determination and self-direction and increase a participant’s involvement and inclusion in their community by helping bridge to social networks and form connections in their community. These one-on-one services are flexible and individualized to meet the unique needs and goals of each participant in what they call a person-centered service plan.

The Arc has Community Liaison volunteers who can provide information as well as attend IEP and 504 meetings with schools upon invitation by the student, family member, or a local school district. Community Liaisons can also attend IEP meetings when available upon invitation by the student, a family member, The Arc, or a local school district. During the meeting, they are able to provide information about local services available, appropriate to the student’s age.

The Arc has several social and support clubs. Parent-to-Parent support matches caregivers of an individual with IDD with trained Helping Parent Mentors who can help support them in their journey. Parent-to-Parent support provides an opportunity for parents to share their experiences with others about raising kids with disabilities.

The Arc of Grays Harbor provides community respite services that are designed to provide a break to caregivers of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities as well as provide fun activities in a community-based setting for the person with IDD. Photo courtesy: The Arc of Grays Harbor

The virtual Family Fun Club is open to all ages with a fun new theme each month and engaging activities for the whole family. The We-Can Club is another offering from The Arc that meets monthly and is focused on social interaction and life skills for all ages and abilities. Foodsters is another monthly social group for all ages and abilities that focuses on social interaction and building kitchen skills.

The Arc Advocates for Change

The Arc works to affect change and influence public policy, improve support and service systems, and increase public awareness and inclusivity in local communities. The folks at The Arc work hard to help pass legislation that will help the individuals they serve to live lives with dignity.

Support The Arc of Grays Harbor

You can help the mission of The Arc in a number of ways. You can become a member, or shop at smile.amazon.com and choose The Arc of Grays Harbor as the beneficiary of donations on eligible purchases. Or you can donate clothing and household linens, or purchase The Arc merch and raise awareness while you wear it.

Learn more about The Arc of Grays Harbor in the informational video on their YouTube channel.

The Arc of Grays Harbor
523 West 1st Street, Aberdeen
360.537.7000

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