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Shela Sapp: United Way helps The Arc of Rowan

By Shela Sapp

Special to the Post

It is hard to believe that The United Way campaign is getting ready to kick off again. Numerous hours and volunteers will be used to make the campaign a success. The Arc of Rowan is one of the Rowan County United Way Member Agencies that benefits from this event.

The Arc of Rowan was established in 1954 and is committed to improving the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, while promoting inclusiveness, equity, dignity and respect for their diversity and cultural differences.

I have been with The Arc of Rowan for 23 years, and our agency was receiving United Way dollars even before I came to the agency. I understand the value of the United Way dollars allocated to our agency. I have watched The Arc grow over the years: our staff, board of directors and the individuals that our agency is proud to provide services to all appreciative the generosity of United Way dollars.

Benefiting are:

The Arc of Rowan Summer Day Program. We have 100 children ages 5-22 attending the program this year. United Way dollars assist with operational expenses and scholarships for children with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Activities blend recreational and academic instruction to produce a fun time including swimming, field trips, self-help skill development and daily living skill instruction centered around each child’s needs.

Community Resources such as Family Support is the foundation of The Arc. The agency helps people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families with obtaining needed services. The Arc may connect them to an existing service or develop the services, assisting families by providing “a voice,” direction, consultation, or whatever the family may need. The service system is very difficult to navigate, so The Arc provides the needed supports so people can obtain their life needs.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Awareness, a public awareness program for the prevention of I/DD.  FAS is caused by women drinking while pregnant. This is a 100 percent preventable cause of I/DD. Teenage “mothers-to-be” are one of the target groups for presentations. The Arc of Rowan partners with the Rowan-Salisbury School System and other agencies to “Pass the Word” that there is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. The message sent is simple: “Somewhere, someday you will be with someone who is pregnant and a drink will be offered and you will be able to make a difference for that baby”. Statistics are staggering – 50% of women will drink alcohol before they realize that they are pregnant.

The Respite Program gives parents/guardians the opportunity for a much needed break from the day to day care need of Developmentally Disabled family members. Respite can be a one on one need or for a support group with many individuals. Currently The Arc of Rowan also provides child care for Down Syndrome Support Group, Rowan County Brain Injury Support Group and the Special Needs Conference. Our agency is working to expand this program in the upcoming year.

Funding allows our agency to provide transportation for recreation groups, Special Olympic Regional and State Meets,  the SOAR Program at RCCC. The Arc also holds monthly dances for adults and informational seminars to assist our families.

If you would like to learn more about The Arc of Rowan, please call 704-637-1521 or visit our website at www.thearcofrowan.org.  You can also follow our agency on Facebook.

   Shela Sapp is executive director of The Arc of Rowan.

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