By Rob FucciPosted Jan 27, 2020 at 9:50 AMUpdated Jan 27, 2020 at 9:50 AM   Concord Journal

It’s 9 a.m. on a Friday in late January. Multiple vans pull up – close to 30 — to the entrance of Minute Man Arc, full of energetic clients high-fiving each other while greeting employees.

It’s what makes coming to work so enjoyable for Stephanie Parish.

“We can’t seem to have enough vans and enough transportation,” said Parish, the chief development officer. “We’re just growing in leaps and bounds”

Minute Man Arc is a Concord-based agency for children and adults with disabilities. The nonprofit, which is the fourth-largest employer in Concord, provides “a community of innovative, lifelong care.”

Founded in 1958 under the name Minute Man Association for Retarded Children, Minute Man Arc supports more than 800 children and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other intellectual and physical disabilities.

The new digs

After serving clients on Baker Avenue for many years, Minute Man Arc relocated a year ago and purchased the building at 35 Forest Ridge Road. The new home is a bright building with numerous large windows, letting in tons of natural light.

“It’s really nice. We are so happy to be here,” Parish said. “When we moved here we were just delighted.”

The main floor is licensed to care for 80 clients, while the second floor serves 120 clients, mainly in employment services.

“They function quite well in the community,” Parish said. “They work at places like Crosby’s Market, they water the plants at Emerson Hospital, they work at Concord Teacakes.”

For clients not working but are serviced on the second floor, there are programs geared toward their needs called Community-based Day Services, where they are out learning and exploring at libraries and various towns.

“They really are an active, busy group,” said Barbara White, the director of Employment Services. “We work on helping them make connections with people in the community, jobs in the community. We have a very high placement rate.”

Those who stay at the facility will learn skills in cooking, wellness and exercise.

“They have a good time,” White said. “They get to help pick the activities during program planning until they feel ownership into the program. You come here and there’s so much positive, happy energy. It’s almost like a second family, which is really important, to have a sense of belonging.”

The staff puts in a lot of preparatory work with clients on their social skills and manners so they can integrate seamlessly into the workplace and be successful.

“The community definitely does not know how many people we support,” Parish said. “We support well over 800 people.”

More than 500 are served in the early intervention program and more than 300 come in and out of the building daily.

Future projects

The Arc’s fundraising campaign to add new programs and expand the parking lot has been going on for the past three years. There are also plans to create an outdoor oasis, add a music park with instruments, swings for adults with autism, walking path and sport courts.

The hope is to complete these projects by the end of 2020.

Later this winter, the Arc’s Extra Steps Pediatric Therapies program will open a new office in Acton, 222 Main St., near the Discovery Museum. The program is for clients ages 3 and older.

According to CEO Jean Goldsberry, the reason for the expansion of the Arc’s successful programs can be attributed to those caring for the clients.

“I’m really proud of the staff,” said CEO Jean Goldsberry, adding it’s clear they put the needs of the client first. “They are respected and they are honored. I think our staff comes with that type of feeling that this is important work. It’s what they want to do and they want people to have good lives.”

Future Outdoor Oasis at Minute Man Arc

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