Celebrating More Than 30 Years in the Katy Area
The Arc of Katy got its start in 1989 when staff from the Katy Independent School District's Special Education Department hosted an informational meeting about what was then called The Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), today known as The Arc. The meeting, held at the Katy ISD Outdoor Learning Center, and attended by Katy ISD staff and parents of students with IDD led to the start of The Arc of Katy.
The second organizational meeting was held on Sept. 19, 1989, at the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church in Katy, and included Janelle Jordan, President of The ARC of Texas, who gave direction in forming the organization. The Arc of Katy’s Board of Directors was established, and the first officers were elected at that meeting. Elected officers included Ann Davis, President; William M. House, Vice President; Betty Crites, Secretary; and Yolanda Gassert, Treasurer. Board of Directors were Fran Clark-Fielder, Joe Sosa, J. Douglas Trani, and Gordon Fielder. The initial 38 members approved the Articles of Incorporation, constitution and by-laws. On Aug. 2, 1990, the Articles of Incorporation were approved by the Secretary of State of Texas.
During the first year, and for many years to follow, The Arc of Katy membership meetings focused on topics such as inclusion of students with disabilities in the community and general education, guardianship, and estate planning. In addition, the organization was able to provide financial assistance to special education teachers to attend seminars and trainings on various special education topics.
Dances, parties, and occasional picnics for families were hosted by The Arc of Katy beginning in 1989. Many of the first social events were held at the Club House in Williamsburg Settlement and chaired by Diane Nicodemus, Peggy Dougherty, and Robert and Barbara Dale. Music for dances at some of the social events was provided by Tim and Debbie Ford using their cassette tape player and Tim’s pre-recorded dance tunes. The Social Committee used their own money to buy pizza for social events.
Launching The Arc of Katy Day Program
In February 2005, The Arc of Katy started an Adult Activity Day Program for individuals with IDD during the school year and a Summer Day Program for teens age 16 and older and adults with IDD. When the program began, we met just two days a week, and, over time, we grew the program to four days each week and, more recently, to five days each week.
Over the years, the Adult Day Program and Summer Program were located at various facilities in the community. A consistent location was established when the Katy YMCA provided the use of Program Cinco for the Adult Day Program during the school year. The Summer Program was held at the Cornerstone Presbyterian Church.
To provide access for our program participants to various activities and events throughout the Katy and Greater Houston Area, we needed reliable, safe transportation. For several years, The Monty Ballard YMCA at Cinco Ranch provided use of its buses to help transport The Arc of Katy’s participants to various activities and the YMCA continues to provide access to its gym for physical fitness activities and for social events. Over time, with contributions from community members, and fund-raising activities, including the sale of the Green Beans and Guacamole cookbook by Austin Hanson, a participant in The Arc of Katy, and his mother Belinda Hillhouse, we purchased a small fleet of four dedicated small buses for The Arc of Katy.
Out of the Floods of Harvey, Into A New Home
After the Program Cinco facility provided by the Katy YMCA was damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, The Arc of Katy moved into temporary quarters provided by Kingsland Baptist Church and then leased space in its current building in downtown Katy on Jan. 4, 2018. Moving into the building located at 5819 10th Street in Katy was the achievement of a long-term goal of The Arc of Katy of having a facility to serve as home for its Adult Day Program and Summer Program for Teens and Adults. With help from the Board of Directors, parents and program participants, and donations from individuals and organizations throughout our community, the vacant space was transformed into a bright and inviting year-round facility for our programs.
A Global Pandemic
Our regular program schedule was interrupted in March 2020 as part of our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, The Arc of Katy’s staff and volunteers continued to engage program participants in online activities and parking lot drive-through events. The staff developed a robust virtual program for day program participants who were at home. Volunteers offered online social events.
On June 15, 2020, we launched redesigned summer program offers delivered to participants in small group in-person and online. We paused in-person sessions again on June 26, 2020, in response to local elevated public health threat levels and advisories, and then relaunched limited in-person sessions in September 2020.
We look forward to safely building up our program schedule and accepting more participants in person as public health threat levels are reduced. We also plan to continue some online virtual programs to help meet the needs of those not able to attend in person.