The Arc of the Midlands has made great strides to help individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities feel empowered and supported by their communities since 2014. According to Doug Finkelstein, director of business development, The Arc of the Midlands exists to offer the highest quality and most innovative residential and employment services to individuals living with disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and others.
“We work passionately to uphold our vision that every individual and family living with an intellectual or developmental disability in South Carolina has access to the information, advocacy and skills they need to participate active members of their community,” he explained.
The organization’s two primary areas of service – residential and employment – ensure that all individuals with disabilities are given ample opportunity to feel at home within the community. For example, the residential staff in Lexington and Richland counties work to assist these individuals with a supported living program. The program covers finance management, health, decision making, cooking and more. These services are a welcome alternative to a traditional group home or facility-based living, and, according to Finkelstein, “gives clients the tools and assistance they need to live and flourish in their own homes.”
Meanwhile, gainful employment for these folks is highly possible thanks to The Arc. The organization has developed a successful employment program to help their clients find rewarding work with industry leaders such as Starbucks, Kohls, Toys ‘R’ Us and Courtyard Marriott.
“The Arc of the Midlands is the largest supported employment provider in South Carolina, and continues to grow and expand statewide,” Finkelstein noted.
Recent projects and successes for the Arc of the Midlands include Midlands Thrift, a local thrift store and inclusive training site that employs individuals with disabilities; Wings for Autism, an airport rehearsal program that prepares individuals and families with disabilities for travel; and Second Wave Coffee and Books, a local business that employs individuals with disabilities and fosters a sense of community.
“Historically, individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been segregated from the community in which they lived and offered no opportunities for employment or advancement,” Finkelstein said.
He added that although legislation advancements have focused on the standard of care and available services for these individuals, there is a lot more work to be done, which is why The Arc exists, and “is passionately governed by its volunteer board of directors.”
Donors can rest assured that their financial contributions will support the betterment of many lives, as well as expansion and enhancement of all advocacy programs and employment initiatives. Volunteering is a great way to make a real difference as well.
“We are always looking for great people with big hearts to come volunteer with our amazing clients,” Finkelstein pointed out. “Whether it’s helping to set up for a Saturday sale at Midlands Thrift or taking a client out for a walk within our Carolina Companions initiative, there are always opportunities for anyone to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.”
To donate, volunteer or find out more, visit ArcMidlands.org or call 803-693-5746.