Updated: Mar 16
Clair Goodman, Senior Reporter from the Houston Chronicle, visited The Arc of Katy and included the following report in her newsletter.
New facility means new opportunities for The Arc of Katy
The Arc of Katy has a new building, and with it comes the opportunity to further the charity’s goal of enriching the lives of adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The organization recently moved into a new building, located at 934 Jordan Ranch Boulevard, but they’ve already utilized the space to expand programs for participants.
Once individuals with special needs age out of the public school system, said Amy Campbell, co-chair of the program committee for Arc of Katy, they often spend their days in solitude. The lack of social interaction and personal enrichment can have a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of the individuals.
The Arc of Katy is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing opportunities for individuals with IDD that enable each person to be included as a respected and active member of their community throughout their lifetime.
The Arc of Katy was founded more than 30 years ago when Campbell, then an educator in Katy ISD, and parents of children with IDD noticed that there were few resources available to parents once their child left the school district.
“The parents realized that they needed to band together to provide programs for their adult children because there was nothing, and their children were isolated at home,” Campbell recalled. “Most of them were going to continue to live at home for the majority of their life or all of their life, and there was no place to go after high school.”
The program had humble but inspiring beginnings in a space donated by the YMCA, said Carolyn Kares, co-chair of the Arc of Katy program committee. “It was absolutely a dream come true for us,” Kares said.
Over the next three degrades, the program would grow, and so too, did the need for a larger space. The Arc of Katy currently serves the community through several programs. The Adult Day Program provides opportunities for participants to engage in safe, healthy and fun social, recreational and community service activities, events and outings at The Arc of Katy facility and at some attractions and points of interest throughout Katy and Greater Houston.
As the program grew, The Arc of Katy was soon limited by the size of the space they occupied. “We always dreamed of having a building, but it seemed a big reach,” said Margaret Laney, volunteer and former board member of the Arc of Katy. “But the right opportunities came up and then the right people got involved, and with a vision and the resources we were able to make a plan for this space.”
The result of that dream was the new facility, which now has ample space for art projects, group activities, exercise and social interaction. That the community came together and supported the Arc of Katy in all its endeavors is deeply moving to the program administrators. “This is truly a place where miracles happen,” said Sandi Dancel, program coordinator and lead instructor.
The most compelling accounts of the value of the space come from the Arc of Katy participants themselves.
“I was home bored all the time before I came to Arc of Katy,” said Nikki Mercado, a program participant. “Now I love bonding with all my friends here.”
Gabe Santiago, who comes to the Arc of Katy five days a week, said he always has fun playing Uno and doing arts and crafts in the new space.
Simone Velez recently moved to Katy from California, leaving behind all her friendships. “I was really lonely when I moved here, but now I have lots of friends,” she said.
The building is only the start of the plan for the new space. The organization plans to create a lush outdoor garden space on the property where participants can enjoy natural spaces, exercise areas and biking trails, said Cherie Duddridge, board president.
“It will be an enjoyable yet functional space that will really allow our participants to experience a peaceful outdoor space,” she said. “There's so many studies on how being in nature can help all of us- not just participants- reduce stress by connecting more with nature.”
Looking to the future, the Arc of Katy hopes to add a nurse’s station and storage shed to the facility.
The program relies on donations to continue its mission. There is also a continued need for volunteers. To contribute or volunteer, visit www.thearcofkaty.org.
Written By: Claire Goodman