Children are cute. Children who are born with developmental disabilities are also cute, loveable, challenging, heart-breaking, tough minded, and playful.
But, when they grow up, people don’t find them quite as adorable.
It isn’t that they changed.
It’s that they live in a world that is not particularly interested in waiting for the adult who is slower, talks differently, can’t hear, can’t see, is fed through a tube, can’t walk or can’t really communicate.
As a result, 80% of adults with developmental disabilities are unemployed.
Now, truth be told, many people living with developmental disabilities (which, by the way, are defined as a condition with which one is born) are not able to work.
We all know that employment improves self-esteem. But, we tend to forget that the rules that apply to “us” also apply to those with developmental disabilities. For those who are able to work, it becomes a lifeline to improved self-esteem, confidence and socialization.
Arc Thrift Stores offers employment and workplace enrichment programs. Fully 10% of the employees at Arc Thrift are adults with developmental disabilities. They work part-time or full-time. Whatever they prefer. They also can attend Arc University: an employment enrichment project unique to Arc Thrift that holds classes once a month on topics such as personal finances, pet care, how to say “No”, bullying, and other life skills.
Arc Thrift is one of the largest nonprofits in Colorado. It employs over 900 people and operates some 21 stores along the Front Range. It also administers Vehicles for Charity and a massive recycling program. And, Arc Thrift believes in collaboration. Each spring, Arc trucks pick up shelf-ready foods for the Volunteers of America City Harvest program. And, year-round, empty trucks from Arc are dispatched to dozens of small thrift stores in the Colorado mountains to help with storage and removal of excessive inventory. It enables the smaller stores to restock. All items that remain unsold are baled and shipped to developing countries.
Why does Arc Thrift matter? This is an organization that has expanded considerably in the past few years. It matters because it is an example of how a nonprofit can maintain its mission without sacrificing its core values.
What’s the annual budget?
Where do they get their funding?
- Earned income (99+%) through thrift store sales, recycling and Vehicles for Charity.
- Events (dinners, auctions, galas)
- Grants (for employment of individuals with developmental disabilities)
What’s their mission:
Arc Thrift works to protect the rights of and secure for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity to realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work and play.
Are they meeting their mission?
Interesting that the word “play” is included in the mission! That makes it much easier to meet. Through Arc’s support of ARC chapters, liberal employment policies, generous collaboration style, employment of individuals with developmental disabilities and the establishment of a genuine workplace enhancement project, it meets its mission in a unique way.
The most surprising thing people learn about Arc:
Arc’s profits support the ARC chapters throughout Colorado. The chapters provide direct services and advocacy on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities.