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Arc Annual Fall Dance"Honoring our Military and Veterans" was the theme for this yearâ€™s Arc Fall Dance. Most of the 273 participants were dressed in some sort of red/white/blue apparel for the occasion. The highlight of the evening for many was the program and appearance of several current military and veterans. A few girl scouts and boy scouts led with the color guard presentation of flags. We sang the Star Spangled Banner, read a story about Taps, and a special guest played the Taps on the trumpet. It was a very moving program.
Donations were taken this year to support a new venture called Eagles Healing Nest, a local nonprofit supporting current and past military and their families.
Pictures were taken with the military and vets in their uniforms, as we thanked them for their service. Jon Lindstrand was present with many items from his war memorabilia, including uniforms, medals, pictures, etc. This display was very moving and interesting.
The dance was held at the K.E.C. with live music provided by the Custom Made band who thoroughly enjoy entertaining each year. A meal of hotdogs, chips, cookies, and a beverage were provided during the evening. Thank you to a great deal of volunteers who helped out before, during and after the dance and also for the donations received to make this event a huge success!
Annual Meeting & Award Celebration 2012
Arc's Annual meeting held on Tuesday, September 18th at Vinje Lutheran Church started with a report from Arc's Executive Director, Mary Rhude. Mary reported that collaboration with other organizations in the area has brought many new experiences to those with disabilities in the community. More important, though, are the choices for people with disabilities as they look for activities, entertainment, workshops, classes and more. The local curling club, summer camp, adapted swim lessons, pontoon rides and other activities are offering choices to this group of people who used to have none. It's all about inclusion and having a sense of community, which People First members do, volunteering and giving back to the community whenever they can.
The Annual meeting is also Arc's chance to recognize members of the community who have given above and beyond in some way. Our Outstanding Self Advocate Shannon Bolter is a very active People First member who attends most opportunities offered, as well as being an amazing "sales gal" for Arc fundraisers. Shannon loves to volunteer in the community, as well as being employed at West Central Industries. Our Outstanding Professional Mary Benson has worked in the field of special education for the past 28 years. She was instrumental in organizing our first People First group as well as our Consumer Conference held each spring. She has previously served on the Arc Board of Directors. Mary now teaches the OSP (Occupational Skills Program) at Ridgewater College. Arc's Outstanding Parent/Family Advocate award went to the Paula and Jeff Bredberg Family because they have really stepped up to the plate and become some of Arc's most efficient and accountable volunteers. Paula is one of Arc's biggest supporters and promoter of Arc's mission. Their son, Eric Wankerl, has also become quite an active participator in activities offered. The Outstanding Direct Care Provider Debbie Mickels is a caring, encouraging and interactive LPN who cares for an individual with disabilities. However she makes it clear that there are no limitations by participating with her client in most Arc opportunities, volunteers often and participates in fundraising activities. Arc awarded the local Let's Go Fishing (LGF) program with the Outstanding Community Partner award. The LGF program has been taking People First members, friends, and families associated with Arc out on boating and fishing expeditions for 3 summers now. The volunteers are helpful, reliable and very dedicated to the population we serve and we appreciate their time and talents and look forward to enjoying our local lakes again next year. Outstanding Volunteer Dina Thompson volunteers at the Arc office every Wednesday morning. She performs clerical duties in a professional manner and has become quite a reliable "job performer". Dina also loves to give her time to friends and the community by volunteering in several different ways.
The audience attending was entertained by select People First members doing a musical performance with a great "self advocacy" message.
Arc also honored Logan Lindstrand from Willmar Public Schools and Ben Schafer from ACGC who received the Eileen Huberty Post Secondary Scholarships. Businesses and organizations that employ people with disabilities were acknowledged, as well as individuals in the audience celebrated their "years of service" at their current employment.
Arc's Fall Festival Fun 2012
Beautiful weather set up a great day out at Robbins Island for Arc's annual Fall Festival! On Thursday, September 27th about 140 people enjoyed the beauty of the fall weather, fall colors, and. Our theme this year was "Fantastic Fall Findings" which was supported by a number of activities: an interactive presentation by a staff member of Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center (PWELC) about how animals prepare for winter, a nature walk / scavenger hunt throughout the park while gathering "signs of fall" items, craft projects centered around fall themes, and horse and wagon rides throughout the park enjoying the surroundings.
A wonderful meal of hot turkey sandwiches was served to end the evening. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this event a success.
Let's Go Fishing Trips Enjoyed by Many
Arc Kandiyohi County and Let's Go Fishing of Minnesota teamed up again this year to provide pontoons rides for approximately 50 individuals this summer. About half of them road around Green Lake enjoying the scenery and hearing stories from the local volunteers while the other half went fishing with the volunteers providing guidance.
We were able to get out on the water a couple times in July and a couple times in August. The June weather didn't cooperate too well. Three of the days feature adults of all ages while one of the trips was offered to our young families in the area who have children with special needs. All excursions were enjoyed and the fishing was successful. We'd like to thank the Let's Go Fishing program and their volunteers for sharing this time with us.
Through a collaborative effort between the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center and Arc Kandiyohi County, adaptive swim lessons were provided for 25 individuals coming from the Willmar area as well as ACGC, Clara City, NLS, Litchfield, and Paynesville. These lessons began 3 summers ago with just 1 session being offered, expanding to 3 sessions last summer. We are pleased to have expanded to 5 sessions being offered the summer of 2012 for children ages 5-17. New this year were the creation of 9 actual levels ranging from basic introduction to water to submersion and swimming and floating unattended. These levels were designed to give both the children and the lifeguards a sense of accomplishing goals and successfully moving to upper level skills and learning.
Lifeguards were once again trained prior to the lessons by Mary Rhude, Arc Executive Director. Positive behavioral strategies were presented as well as sensory needs of children and alternative methods of communications. In most cases the ratio was one lifeguard or instructor to one child/teen.
The benefits associated with adaptive swim lessons includes not only the obvious safety in the water and improved motor development but also improved social skills, concentration and alertness, and improved understanding of directions and concepts.
An end of the summer Picnic and Swim Party was held for the families of those youth participating, as well as the lifeguards who had been their teachers. The weather cooperated and we had a great turnout of approximately 70 people join us that evening. The food was good but the swimming was definitely the highlight as the youth were able to show their families and/or caretakers what they had accomplished this summer during their lessons.
Picnic / Fun Day 2012
Arc's annual Picnic / Fun Day was held out at Robbins Island on Friday, June 15th. Once again we were blessed with beautiful weather! We had approximately 160 people in attendance that enjoyed socializing, playing games, and of course the picnic food. Participants could participate in swimming, frisbee golf, bean bag toss, monkey golf, or get in on a game of kick ball. Our kickball game was a huge success this year - thanks to all those who played and those who cheered! Most people either enjoyed the short walk or took the challenge of the long walk throughout the park before enjoying their brat, chips, beans, and fruit. Thanks for all the volunteers that helped that day and to the people or companies that donated goods or beverages.
Autism: A Life Long Journey
The Autism Society of Minnesota (AUSM) came to Willmar on Saturday, June 23rd to present a workshop on Autism. About 20 individuals attended the all day workshop. The morning session was an overview of Autism. The participants divided into mini groups in the afternoon, each one facilitated by an AUSM presenter. One group learned about interventions and applications for children and families birth to age 10 while the other group concentrated on interventions and strategies for individuals and families age 11 to adult. Thanks to United Way of West Central Minnesota and Concorde Bank of Willmar & Blomkest for supporting this wonderful learning opportunity.
Consumer Conference - Secrets to Our Success!
What a wonderful day it was - our 22nd annual Consumer Conference! We started out with a play by the CLIMB Theatre addressing Financial Literacy. Thanks to the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities for a grant again this year, enabling us to bring in the CLIMB Theatre as well as other speakers. The grant also enabled us to offer scholarships to individuals to be able to attend. We had 160 individuals in attendance, including participants, presenters, and volunteers. Ten sessions were offered throughout the day with a great mixture of education and fun. Participants were able to choose classes ranging from Human Rights/Self Advocacy or History of Institutionalism, to perhaps an exercise class or a wood craft or cake decorating class. Or maybe they enjoyed the theatre/interactive arts classes. Some engaged themselves in a photography class and were able to print and take home their own pictures. There was something for everyone. Thanks to West Central Industries for a delicious lunch.
Arc's Spring Dance
Co-Hosted by Willmar National Honor Society
Cities of Light - Paris, Venice, New York was the theme for this year's Willmar Prom. That theme was carried over for our Spring Dance held on Sat. May 5th in which we had 500 people participate in! We had about 400 individuals register and about 100 students participated in the evening. Students assisted with welcoming everyone, to being the DJ's and dancing partners, as well as providing a concession stand for us. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out that evening. We saw a lot of very dressed up individuals, some even donning prom dresses, suits, and flowers. There was lots of excitement and enthusiasm in the crowd as they danced the night away!
THANK YOU to all who supported Arc Kandiyohi County by purchasing roses during our annual Rose Sale. We had a very successful year with pre-sales being over 608 dozen roses. We made a profit of over $5,000. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. Top People First sellers were Shannon Bolter, Kelly Miller, June Laechelt, Robin Hegreberg and Sarah Sagedal. Thank you to all sellers including People First, Arc Board members as well as other Arc Supporters.
Arc Night @ the Community Center
A great turnout at our first ever Arc Night @ the Community Center made for an exciting evening. We had approximately 100 people in attendance. The highlight for some was the DJ / karaoke music, singing and dancing going on. Others love playing Bingo and winning some neat prizes. Quite a few people tried out their talent at shooting pool or playing board games. Yet others hit the concession stand and spent their time mingling and visiting. A slide show highlighting Arc's past year was playing in the background, as well as brochures and information distributed on the tables. We had a great mix of individuals, family members, caregivers, staff and board members, as well as a few new visitors spending the evening with us.