The Arc of Katy announces Sandi Dancel as Day Program Coordinator

The Arc of Katy Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Sandra (Sandi) Dancel has been named Day Program Coordinator effective Dec.12, 2019. In this role, Sandi is responsible for coordinating and administering the day-to-day operation of The Arc of Katy Day Program and Summer Program for adults and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Program Coordinator ensures that the Day Program provides quality, age-appropriate and engaging activities.

Sandi joined The Arc of Katy as a part-time instructor in 2019. She worked previously as office manager for Hands-on Tasks, a para-educator for Katy Independent School District and office manager for Avery Reporting. Since 1999, Sandi also has worked as a volunteer with Katy Wolf Pack Special Olympics, where she is now Head of Delegation for a Special Olympics team of over 200 athletes.

A native of Iowa, Sandi moved to Colorado in 1968, and then to Katy in 1993. She attended Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Arapahoe Community College in Denver, Colo. Her studies focused on Special Education, Victim Advocacy and Business Administration.

The Arc of Katy ornament at Texas State Capitol

State Representative Gina Calanni invited The Arc of Katy to decorate the District 132 ornament for the Christmas tree on display during the winter holiday season at the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin.

The Arc of Katy participants Brandon, Star, Aryn and Mary joined our volunteer artist in residence Liz Mason in creating the ornament.

2020 Gala announced with call for sponsors, underwriters, donors, volunteers

All are invited to participate as sponsors, underwriters, donors, attendees or volunteers in The Arc of Katy 2020 Gala – a fund-raising social event Friday, April 3, 2020, that supports programs and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.   

This year’s Gala committee is planning another memorable evening of fine dining and entertainment at the Omni Houston Hotel at Westside, according to Fran Dahl, who is chairing the 2020 Gala Planning Committee along with Cherie Duddridge and Krista Kiblawi.

“We invite individuals, companies and organizations in our community to consider supporting those with I/DD by becoming a Gala Sponsor or Underwriter or as a donor for our Live or Silent Auctions,” Dahl said. “We also are seeking volunteers to assist with various aspects of planning and carrying out the event.”   

The Gala is The Arc of Katy’s major fundraiser for the year, according to Fred Shafer, President of the Board of Directors of The Arc of Katy. “The funds generated from our Gala support high quality, safe, affordable programs that provide skills development, social enrichment and community service activities,” he says.

”Broad support from our community allows The Arc of Katy to continue our current day program, social and recreational events, and other programs for individuals with I/DD,” Shafer says. “Net revenues from the Gala in 2019 were about $80,000 and the 2020 goal is to generate at least $100,000. We need additional funding to maintain and expand our programs and resources for more youth and adults with I/DD and their families in our community.”  

Event sponsor, underwriting, live or silent auction and other donation commitments made by February 17, 2020, will guarantee recognition in pre-Gala promotions and print materials on the evening of the event. Sponsor, underwriting and donation forms are available online at The Arc of Katy 2020 Gala Website here

If interested in volunteering or if you have any other questions, please contact the committee chairs at or call The Arc of Katy at 832.754.9802. 


Dr. Karen Jaggers presents information to assist families of youth with autism

Dr. Karen Jaggers, guest speaker for The Arc of Katy Empowerment Through Knowledge (ETK) educational event in October, makes her presentation, “Surviving the Roller Coaster of Life with Autism,” available here for those who want it for future reference who attended and also those who were unable to attend.  Her presentation is one of four ETK sessions hosted by The Arc of Katy in the past year. Check our website for future sessions to be scheduled in 2020. 

“Hosting ETK sessions for family members living with Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (IDD) is an important part of our mission,” said Fred Shafer, President of The Arc of Katy. “This ETK session was especially helpful because when a child with autism is introduced into a family, the dynamics often change dramatically.”

As a parent of a son on the autism spectrum, as well as a counseling professional, Dr. Jaggers presented a unique perspective of effective strategies to maintain sanity, marriage and family. “Living with someone on the autism spectrum brings additional challenges and stress to life,” Dr. Jaggers said. “So it’s important to have strategies for dealing with these challenges.”

Dr. Jaggers, a Licensed Professional Counselor and partner of Stokan, Jaggers and Associates, has dedicated the past 15 years of her life to helping families and individuals in the Katy and Houston area as a disability advocate, behavior and educational consultant, speaker, and group leader specializing in helping children on the autism spectrum and their families. Additionally, Dr. Jaggers is co-founder and past president of Katy Autism Support, a member of the Katy ISD Special Education Advisory Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals of Houston.  She holds a holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Services, a Masters in Mental Health Counseling, and a PhD in Behavioral Sciences.

The Arc of Katy engages in #GivingTuesdayKaty and worldwide day of giving

The Arc of Katy and 10 other nonprofits are joining with #GivingTuesdayKaty as part of a global day of giving taking place Tuesday, Dec. 3 — the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States — to harness the collective power of people, communities and organizations to encourage giving and celebrate generosity worldwide.

“This year #GivingTuesdayKaty is not just focusing on donations; it is also focusing on people wanting to volunteer with an organization in the Katy community,” said Sarah Beaton, organizer for #GivingTuesdayKaty. “Volunteering is an opportunity for the people of Katy to give back to the nonprofits that serve their community.”

Month-long activities of #GivingTuesdayKaty will build up to a family-focused community event 5:30 pm to 8 pm Dec. 3 at No Label Brewery, 5351 1st St., Katy, at which The Arc of Katy and other nonprofits will share information on their organizations, enjoy food trucks and entertainment, and participate in fun activities to promote community spirit and volunteerism.

Activities and promotions for #GivingTuesdayKaty kicked off with a press conference Oct. 29 at which City of Katy Mayor Bill Hastings and Councilman Chris Harris delivered a proclamation from the city recognizing the day of caring and promoting community participation. #GivingTuesdayKaty kicks off the charitable season in the United States and globally, when many people focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

“Because of generosity of our community, The Arc of Katy continues to open doors of opportunity for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families,” said Fred Shafer. “We rely on volunteers and funds generated from events such as #GivingTuesdayKaty to maintain high quality, safe, affordable programs that provide skills development, social and recreational experiences for our participants. Also, our program participants enjoy being engaged in community service; participating in #GivingTuesdayKaty events is another opportunity for us to show appreciation to the Katy community and help others.”

In addition to The Arc of Katy, nonprofits participating in #GivingTuesdayKaty include Attack Poverty Friends of Sundown, Carrie’s Heart, Christ Clinic, Clothed by Faith, Compassion Katy, Hope Impacts, Katy Responds, Krause Children’s Residential, Nerdy Girl Success and The Ballard House.


Family, friends, “pardners” invited to Barn Dance

The Arc of Katy will hold our annual Barn Dance, 1 to 3:30 pm, Sunday, Nov. 10.  Family, friends and community partners are invited to purchase admission, sponsor the event or donate to support a program participant.

The family-friendly event will be held at 26855 Westheimer Parkway, Katy, Texas 77494.  Admission is $25 per person or $100 for a family of four or more.  Also, family and friends can sponsor individual participants of The Arc of Katy with Boot Scootin’ Buddy donations of $25 or more.  And we are seeking event sponsors who can contribute $3,000, $1,500 or $500 to help underwrite costs of the Barn Dance.

“The event includes music, dancing, cake walk, games, raffles, socializing and great food,” says Carolyn Kares, The Arc of Katy Program Committee co-chair who also leads planning of the 2019 Barn Dance. “Event proceeds will be used to fund The Arc of Katy’s day and summer programs, social events and activities for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities so that they have the opportunity to be fully engaged in our community.”

“Instead of sitting isolated at home, our program participants are active members of their community, having fun with friends, visiting community attractions, participating in recreational events and activities and conducting community service projects,” Kares said. “We rely on community support including direct donations and various fund-raising events so that we can maintain and expand the high quality, affordable programs that provide recreational, social and life skill development opportunities in a healthy, safe and fun environment for people with IDD who live in and near Katy.”

The Arc of Katy is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that provides opportunities for people with IDD to be included as respected and active members of their community throughout their lifetimes.

Sponsor or register and purchase admission to the Barn Dance here.


Willie’s Grill and Icehouse Spirit Night for The Arc of Katy on Tuesday, Sept. 24

Visit Willie’s Grill and Icehouse for dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 4 pm to closing and let your Willie’s cashier know you are dining in support of The Arc of Katy. Willie’s will then donate 15 percent of your check to The Arc of Katy programs and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Please invite your family, friends and neighbors.  Willie’s Grill and Icehouse Katy is located at 19905 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX, 77094.

The Arc’s local and state leaders engage with members at informative annual meeting

The Arc of Katy substantially advanced delivery of its strategic plan in fiscal year 2018-2019, maintaining and growing quality programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families and meeting our financial goal of operating within a balanced budget for the first time in several years.

Also, The Arc of Texas, in collaboration with other advocates for people with special needs, progressed policy priorities statewide this year to assist people with IDD access quality supports and services to meet their needs and choices.

About 55 people at The Arc of Katy Annual General Membership Meeting on Sept. 10 heard updates on programs and issues important to local and state affiliates of The Arc. Attending were program participants, family members, staff, volunteers, community leaders including City of Katy Mayor Bill Hastings; State Representative Gina Calanni; Paula Gibson, Fort Bend District Director for State Senator Lois Kolkhorst; several Katy Independent School District educators and others interested in programs and services for people with IDD.

The Arc of Katy program participants Billy Schuiten, Nathan DuFour, Aryn Simone and Keith Butler greeted and offered refreshments to guests as they arrived at the meeting; Brandon Todd helped open the meeting and Susan Bode offered an invocation. The Arc of Katy Board of Directors President Fred Shafer recognized these participants and Ben Palen, who also attended, and introduced Board officers, members and staff of The Arc of Katy.

The Arc of Katy Delivers Key Objectives of Annual Plan
and Focuses on Board Development and Strategic Plan Update

Shafer credited The Arc of Katy’s successful 2018-2019 fiscal year on the dedication of staff, families, participants and volunteers, including the Board of Directors.

The Arc of Katy Treasurer Mike Lattal highlighted key aspects of the 2018-2019 financial performance and budget for 2019-2020. With an annual budget of about $382,000, Lattal reported that administrative costs account for only about 7 percent of the budget. The remaining expenses are related to program delivery including payroll, facility rent and vehicles for transportation. Income sources including tuition, fund-raising events, memberships and donations fully funded costs in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Shafer reiterated that The Arc of Katy had successfully advanced a comprehensive financial plan, balanced budget for 2019-2020, robust budget development process with input from committee leaders and staff, professional bookkeeping services, a clear 2018-2019 audit, ADP payroll services, increased funding opportunities and enhanced marketing and communications.

He also reported on The Arc of Katy Empowerment Through Knowledge program that provides information and resources to family members, caregivers and others who work with people with IDD. Another program now branded by the organization is The Arc of Katy Cares to emphasize that, in addition to benefitting from generosity of our community, our participants and families also are focused on being engaged with and of service to our community.

Shafer said that with an objective of continuous improvement the board has begun a board development effort to identify and address gaps and will then conduct a strategic planning refresh with long-term view of what The Arc aims to do to meet growing need for programs and services for people with IDD and their families in the Katy area.

The Arc of Texas Advances Policy Issues to Support and Enhance Services and Programs for People with IDD

Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of Texas Jennifer Martinez and Kyle Piccola, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, discussed statewide focus, activities, programs and events of the organization that are focused on promoting, protecting and advocating for human rights and self-determination of Texans with IDD.

During the most recent state legislative session, for example, The Arc of Texas staff and volunteers tracked over 220 bills with a focus on criminal justice, special education, employment, voting and long-term services for people with IDD. In partnership with members they testified 70 times this year on over 30 bills.

Priority bills for The Arc of Texas that passed in 2019 include:
• House Bill 3116 authored by Rep. White and Sen. West that directs the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to create a task force to develop standards and best practices for jails to support unique needs of people with IDD when they are detained.
• House Bill 3540 by Rep. Burns and Sen. Hughes that provides flexibility for peace officers when called to a Health Care Services group home or an intermediate care facility to ensure the residents with IDD are not wrongfully arrested for minor altercations with housemates.
• House Bill and 3630 and Senate Bill 712 by Rep. Meyer and Sen. Lucio that prohibits dangerous discipline and behavior management techniques known as “aversive techniques” from being used on students, specifically students with disabilities.
• House Bill 4531 authored by Rep. Neave and Sen. Zaffrini that ensures individuals with IDD have a way to seek justice through evidence collection and sexual assault services after surviving a sexual assault.
• House Bill 4533 by Rep. Klick and Sen. Kolkhorst that requires development and implementation of a pilot to test delivery of the social services under managed care for individuals with IDD and similar functional needs.
• Senate Bill 753 authored by Sen. Huffman and Rep. Raney that transitions the purchasing from People with Disabilities Program away from paying individuals with IDD less than the federal minimum wage.
• Senate Bill 2038 by Sen. Rodriguez and Rep. Fierro that increases occupational skill training opportunities for people with IDD by identifying potential funding and outlining specific occupations in high-demand industries in this state for which a post-secondary certification, occupational license or other workforce credential is required and that may be appropriate for individuals with IDD.

In addition, state budget items helping individuals with IDD included about $219.6 million appropriated to cover past state shortfalls in special education; a change in mainstream weight that results in more funding for students in special education; additional funding for Early Childhood Intervention services; and $50 million to help school districts recover from the performance monitoring indicator.

However, while 1,628 Medicaid waivers were funded in the state budget, more than 155,000 people remain on the waiting list and the average wait time 16 years.

Other 2019 Annual Meeting Business
In addition to hearing updates on The Arc of Katy and The Arc of Texas, members of the organization acted in the meeting on three governance issues:
• Approved September 11, 2018, Annual Meeting Minutes
• Approved terms and election of board officers and members
• Approved amended Articles of Incorporation

See more photos from The Arc of Katy 2019 Annual General Membership Meeting in Gallery.  

New program year launches with activities for our participants and community

The Arc of Katy launched its 2019-20 program year Sept. 3 with the popular Adult Day Program and a robust schedule of fall activities designed to empower and enrich lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

“We provide opportunities for people with IDD to be included as respected and active members of our community throughout their lifetime,” said Fred Shafer, President of The Arc of Katy board of directors. “Our Adult Day Program participants enjoy a variety of activities through which they continue to learn, socialize and develop new skills.”

Indeed! Throughout the year, Day Program participants participate in a number of activities onsite at our facility in old town Katy and also tour museums, farms and arboretums; visit local retail outlets, recreational facilities and restaurants; and attend events like the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. They also participate in fitness activities at the Monty Ballard YMCA at Cinco Ranch and some participate in the Arc of Katy Be Strong aquatic exercise program at Mary Jo Peckham Park.

During September, participants will tour the Constable Precinct 5 facility and the Houston National Public Radio station, perform a community service project (making teddy bears at Carriage Inn Katy Senior Living) and visit with Mayor Bill Hastings at Katy City Hall.

For other community members, several events and activities have been scheduled for people to learn about the Arc and to get involved:
Annual General Membership Meeting, Sept. 10, 7-8:30 p.m. at Parkway Fellowship, 5819 10th Street, Katy, TX 77493
Annual Membership Drive (Those interested can register here.)
Volunteer Orientation, Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 pm to 8:30 pm, at Kingsland Baptist Church 20555 Kingsland Blvd., Katy, TX 77450

“The Arc of Katy, our participants and their families are grateful for the support provided by the Katy community,” Shafer said. “Whether it’s a monetary donation, a donation in-kind or a donation of time, every bit of support helps. As the Katy Area grows, we aim to expand the programs and services we offer and to increase enrollment opportunities to meet the greater need for programs like ours.”

To prepare for expected growth, the Arc of Katy also is hiring! It is looking for a Day Program Coordinator and a few more part-time Day Program Instructors. Applications and job descriptions are available here . For more information, email or call 832.754.9802.

To see more photos from The Arc of Katy program, visit our photo gallery here.