Arc looking for donors in hopes of expansion

By David Bodenheimer, The Dispatch

Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.

Faced with limited space and future growth concerns, the Arc of Davidson County is exploring options to construct a new facility.

Arc operates out of a former group home at 6 Vance Circle. The agency moved its administrative offices into the roughly 100-year-old residence in the mid-1980s.

Arc has over a 50-year presence in Davidson County. Four percent, or 4,600 citizens, in the county are considered special needs. Arc has four group homes, three in Lexington and one in Davidson County, serving 23 residents. A summer camp held at South Lexington School attracts special needs residents between the ages of 5 and 21. The summer camp is largely funded through the United Way. But leaders with the Arc say their facilities are hindering the organization from doing more in the community.

“We’re looking to expand some of the things we’re doing currently,” said Shirley Holt, Arc Board of Directors president, “and adding some new programming. But basically we’ve outgrown our administrative office space. We have to have space to have stuff to be able to access some of the funding.”

Arc is a 501(c)(3) public charity and receives funding at the state and federal level.

Conversations about a facility expansion have been slow. It’s been a topic at Arc for the past two years. Last year, Arc joined with Pilot View Resources and Conservation Development out of Winston-Salem, which showed interest in the project. Pilot View is a not-for-profit organization with a focus on helping community groups carry out projects for natural or human resource growth. Mary Ellen Cone, director of development for Arc, said Pilot View is instrumental in locating funding sources to help with project costs.

Pilot View suggested Arc needs at least 30 acres to construct a new facility. Arc’s donors and members of its board have indicated they want to construct on donated land if the project is to move forward. The good news is Arc has never undertaken a capital campaign during its time in Davidson County, and leaders feel justified in seeking financial support for the first time. The bad news is they have to find a willing donor on a significant parcel of land in an ideal location for a new facility.

The new facility would provide office space, a multi-purpose area doubling as a gym and recreational facilities such as a pool and bowling alley for use by the summer camp program. Arc says it will work with nonprofits in the area to host functions at the new site.

A location has not yet been identified, but Holt said ideally finding a spot between Lexington and Thomasville would be the most practical area.
“We really need to know what land we have, how it lays and how much it’s going to take to get that land,” Holt said.

Construction would look to be completed in phases as funding became available. It’s too early to estimate potential costs, but quoting the project as a multimillion-dollar one is fair, Arc leaders said.

Expansion of Arc facilities would lead to more services and a higher quality of life for special needs residents, Arc officials say.

“We’re not going to promote special needs citizens as being vulnerable people,” said LaRue Kennedy, residential program director for Arc. “Our goal is to help them meet their maximum potential and provide facilities for them to be able to do it.”

David Bodenheimer can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 227, or at david.bodenheimer@the-dispatch.com.