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Turning a House into a Home

collage_Ward Model Homes

While 750 square feet may not seem like a lot of space, prominent interior designer and Arc Jacksonville board member, R. Ward Lariscy has proven that it’s the perfect amount.

That’s the size of each of the 97 affordable apartments at The Arc Jacksonville Village, where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities will live independently. The apartments feature individual bedrooms and bathrooms and a shared kitchen and living room.

Three apartments, one two-bedroom and two one-bedrooms, serve as model units. Sticking to a budget of approximately $2,500 per unit, Ward completely furnished and decorated each apartment, transforming them into unique living spaces with a distinct personality.

To stay within budget and to show that a little can make a big impact, Ward visited resale shops, discount stores, outlets and major retail chains throughout Jacksonville. Each unit features a different theme, which took shape once a major piece, such as a sofa, was found. Accent pieces and décor items were then selected to perfect the look.

Ward’s favorite apartment became the British-themed model home.  “It reminded me of all the years I used to travel to England to buy antiques for my business and clients,” he said.

“It was not my usual decorating project, but it was rewarding!” Ward said. The smiling faces of future residents and compliments from all who have visited the models, Ward explained, were his most meaningful compensation.

Ward’s involvement didn’t stop, or begin, there. Ward was instrumental in decorating the community center, the hub of The Arc Jacksonville Village. At the community center residents check their mail, access the internet, pay rent, watch movies, eat dinner, participate in activities and much more. Decorated with bright colors, eye-catching artwork, modern furniture and interesting accents, Ward created a vibrant, inviting environment for residents, staff and volunteers.

A number of Ward’s colleagues helped bring his vision to life, including First Coast Designers Choice, American Society of Interior Designers, Janice Young, Ann Wingate, First Coast Supply, and Mark Timmons. To all, The Arc Jacksonville sends a “Big Thank You!”

Innovation Grant Awarded to The Arc Jacksonville

 Continued from March’s E-Newsletter link:

The Riverside Hospital Foundation Innovation Grant will help launch a pilot project between The Arc Jacksonville and area educational institutions to establish internships where nursing students will be in direct contact with adults with I/DD, enabling them to experience firsthand the specialized health needs of this population and the challenges to communication that are presented in treating persons with I/DD. Such opportunity to advance understanding and knowledge of patients with I/DD has not been included in traditional nurse training programs.

Riverside Trustees chose this philanthropic investment as a means of fulfilling the Riverside Hospital core value to provide innovative, quality care with compassion and concern for each patient’s unique needs.

“We are pleased to have been presented this opportunity to improve the quality of care provided to the specific population of persons with I/DD while advancing the field of nursing education,” said Riverside Hospital Foundation Executive Director Helen Werking. “We will be helping our neighbors with I/DD, nursing students in our five-county area and creating results that are likely to impact nursing curriculums throughout the state and the nation. This investment is an opportunity to effect systemic change.”

“The Arc Jacksonville is privileged to institute this program in philanthropic partnership with The Riverside Hospital Foundation,” said Jim Whittaker, CEO & President of The Arc Jacksonville. “We will learn alongside our constituents with I/DD and the student nurse interns just how to improve the interaction of healthcare professionals with individuals with I/DD. Results will advance individual well-being and knowledge in the fields of special education and healthcare.”

The Riverside Hospital Foundation was established in 1991 as a not-for-profit corporation to foster access to quality healthcare in Northeast Florida. Since established, the Foundation has granted more than $9 million to non-profit organizations primarily serving the five-county Northeast Florida area. The Innovation Grant program was established in 2013 to support new and innovative programs that have measureable outcomes, a self-sustaining endpoint to funding and are translatable and replicable.

About The Arc Jacksonville

The Arc Jacksonville, Inc. was established in 1965 to serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, the organization has an annual operating budget approaching $8 million and serves approximately 400 individuals daily from three main locations and five group homes. Arc is opening in April 2016 The Arc Jacksonville Village, the nation’s first independent living community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition to the direct services programs, The Arc Jacksonville serves as a source of information and support for Northeast Florida families of persons with disabilities through its advocacy program, called A.S.K. (Advocacy, Support and Knowledge).

For more information, please contact Judy Hall Lanier at 

The True Impact of Service

IMG_1776_ cropped headshot K.Shaneyfelt

Katie Shaneyfelt: AmeriCorps Member

When Katie Shaneyfelt began volunteering with The Arc Jacksonville in October 2014 she had no idea it would be life changing.

She started as a Club Arc volunteer at The Arc Jacksonville’s Westside location, looking to fulfill volunteer hours needed for a course at Florida State College of Jacksonville.

Unlike previous volunteer experiences, once Katie completed her hours she continued to volunteer because she had fallen in love with the people. “I had never felt more at home. They became my best friends,” she said.

Katie’s passion led her to accept a grant-funded position with The Arc Jacksonville, where she was able to work hands-on with the agency’s volunteer program for a year. While in the position, her passion for working with adults with disabilities grew, leading her to change her major from Animation to Art Therapy.

“Before I was a part of The Arc Jacksonville, I struggled with what I wanted to do in life,” Katie said. Being around The Arc participants and staff has helped Katie realize she wants to do more than just create art. She wants to use art to help others and make a lasting impact on their life.

Katie was further inspired through her work with The Arc Jacksonville to pursue a Best Buddies chapter for FSCJ. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of Best Buddies, and I wanted to bring it to my college campus,” she said. Katie saw the Best Buddies project as a way to expand community advocacy for adults with disabilities.

When Katie’s grant-funded position ended in 2015, she continued her involvement with The Arc Jacksonville by becoming an AmeriCorps member. As a member she recruits additional AmeriCorps members and volunteers to serve throughout the agency. Her background with The Arc Jacksonville made her AmeriCorps experience more meaningful.

“If I hadn’t volunteered through Club Arc, I don’t think I would appreciate my AmeriCorps experience as much,” she said. Katie is inspired by the passion she shares with her fellow AmeriCorps members and values how involved they are in the program.

As Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” For Katie, volunteering did just that. What began as fulfilling a requirement for a college class quickly morphed into friendships, connections and opportunities and a career path.

“I never expected volunteering to turn into a job, or go past friendships,” said Katie. “I’ve come to value it more now that I can see the true impact.”

Giving Tuesday is December 1st, 2015

Giving Tuesday 2015 Logo

Tuesday, December 1st will mark the fourth year for #GivingTuesday, a day of giving following the popular Black Friday and Cyber Monday Holidays. Started in 2012, #GivingTuesday was created as a way to unite individuals and organizations for the purpose of giving back to their communities. Since its conception, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that supports the spirit of giving.

How to Help:

If you are looking to get involved and give back to your community this #GivingTuesday, please consider giving to The Arc Jacksonville. A significant portion of The Arc’s general operating costs are not covered by fee-for-service. We rely on fundraisers and donations to help cover these costs. In honor of #GivingTuesday, we are asking for your support of The Arc Jacksonville. Donations will help to fund all programs and services offered by The Arc Jacksonville.

Donations can be made through our website at or please send all donations to:

The Arc Jacksonville

Attn: Development Department

1050 North Davis Street

Jacksonville, FL 32209

Mission Moment: A.S.K at The Arc Jacksonville

The Arc Jacksonville’s Advocacy department, better known as A.S.K. (Advocacy, Support and Knowledge), is a rich resource in providing assistance and outreach to the disability community. The advocacy department consists of Charlotte Temple, Vice President of Advocacy and Denise Torres, Advocacy Specialist. Advocacy is the only department in the agency that serves people with disabilities through-out the life span. Of the many services and resources they provide, information about the protection of rights, guardianship/guardian advocacy is a question that comes up often among parents and guardians.

Guardianship/Guardian Advocacy helps caregivers protect the rights of their loved ones with a disability.

It is encouraged that families begin to consider guardianship/guardian advocacy before the person with a disability turns 18, if they have a significant intellectual disability. Once they turn 18, they are of legal age and according to state law, the person is of age to make all legal decisions.   Education rights and decisions are transferred to the student from the parent(s)/caregiver(s).

The Advocacy department helps families to understand the many legal ways of assisting their son or daughter with legal decisions.  If it becomes necessary to obtain more formal rights to assist with decision making, the department provides information about the guardian and the guardian advocacy processes. Guardianship is for anyone that does not have the ability to make decisions.  Guardian Advocacy is only for those individuals who have an intellectual disability and developmental disability.

Guardianship and guardian advocacy generally only address areas of a person’s life where they are unable to make decisions and need protection.  The most common concerns are in the areas of medical decisions and the ability to negotiate government benefits and services.  Next, are usually in the area of finance and the ability to understand and enter into a contract.  Most guardianships and guardian advocacies are limited to the areas in which the individual needs assistance.

The Advocacy department assists families/caregivers with information on where to turn to seek professional assistance with the process.  Attorney representation is necessary for guardianship.  Individuals can represent themselves with guardian advocacy, but most are reluctant to do so and seek an attorney to assist them.  For those families who have limited resources, the Advocacy department assists them with locating reduced cost or free legal services in the community.

Christina Rivers recently worked with our advocacy department to assist in obtaining guardian advocacy for her son. “I had a wonderful experience working with the Advocacy department,” she said.  They were able to explain the guardian advocacy process and help Rivers obtain the help she needed for her 18 year old son, Christian.

“I appreciate Ms. Torres going all out. She was excellent and supportive,” said Rivers.

For more information on our advocacy program and assistance with guardianship, please visit

Employment Services: Q&A with The Job Coaches

Arc Jacksonville job coaches, Cass Parker, Tom Smith, Christine Thomas and Mackenzie Donnelly, are working hard to get individuals with disabilities placed in community employment.


Cass Parker


What’s the hardest thing about being a job coach? Sometimes there can be a feeling of defeat, but you have to keep getting up, dusting off, and moving forward.

What are the most important skills for a client to have when looking for a job? The willingness to learn.

What do you enjoy about being a job coach? Knowing that each day will be different.

What obstacles do you face when trying to place individuals with disabilities for employment? Getting past job descriptions and working with employers to tailor the job to fit the capabilities of our clients.

What’s the best advice you could give someone with a disability looking to be employed? Be flexible, patient and keep in mind that you are there to fit the (potential) employer’s need.

How is working with the people you’ve been assigned to as a job coach? It’s never a dull moment!

Because of The Arc…Individuals have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.


 Mackenzie Donnelly


“The Employment Department is the definition of teamwork and we depend on each other for support and alternative perspectives. Having a job coach really means having the support of all of us. I feel extremely appreciative to be a part of this team.”

What’s the hardest thing about being a job coach? The job development process and trying to encourage a company to job-carve. It takes great efforts of persuasion and proper timing.

What do you enjoy about being a job coach? Seeing the individuals that I am working with find success after working diligently to perfect, or correct, a work task. To see them succeed is an absolute delight to me!

How is it working with employers and developing relationships? It’s important to establish trust. I always make every effort to ensure that our partnered employers understand that we are there to support them as well, not just the client.

What obstacles do you face when trying to place individuals with disabilities for employment? The many misconceptions that surround individuals with disabilities.

What’s the best advice you could give someone with a disability looking to be employed? Have a positive attitude. An individual can have dynamic skills, be incredibly organized, and possess motivation, but if they have a poor attitude, no one is going to even want to work with them.

How is working with the people you’ve been assigned to as a job coach? It’s wonderful! We take time to get to know them on an individual level so that we are better able to assist them in their journey.

Because of The Arc…Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are able to seek compassionate assistance that encourages them to challenge themselves and provides opportunity, enrichment, and purpose to their daily lives.


Christine Thomas

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“The individuals that make up the employment team are diverse. We all go about our job a little differently, but at the end of the day we are going for the same result. I think we all share a true passion for the individuals we serve. We share a lot of laughs together.

What’s the hardest thing about being a job coach? The lack of predictability.

What are the most important skills for a client to have when looking for a job? Patience and the ability to remain positive during the job search.

What do you enjoy about being a job coach? It gives me the unique opportunity to assist someone in creating success for themselves. I also enjoy connecting with the business community of Jacksonville.

 How is it working with employers and developing relationships? Establishing relationships is vital in seeking job opportunities. When an individual is successful in maintaining employment, the established relationship with the employer can open the door for future job placements.

What obstacles do you face when trying to place individuals with disabilities for employment? Job descriptions and their flexibility with our clients.

What’s the best advice you could give someone with a disability looking to be employed? Keep a positive attitude!

How is working with the people you’ve been assigned to as a job coach? It’s never a dull day!

Because of The Arc…I have a dynamic job that I love.


Thomas Smith


What’s the hardest thing about being a job coach? Not being able to find someone a job quickly.

What are the most important skills for a client to have when looking for a job? “Dress for success”

What do you enjoy about being a job coach? When a person gets hired.

 How is it working with employers and developing relationships? Most employers are great, they have a willingness to work for the success of our clients.

What obstacles do you face when trying to place individuals with disabilities for employment? People believing that a person with a disability is not capable of doing a job.

What’s the best advice you could give someone with a disability looking to be employed? Don’t give up. It may take some time, but you will find a job.

How is working with the people you’ve been assigned to as a job coach? All the people I’ve worked with have been great and shown a willingness to get a job.

Because of The Arc…People with disabilities have shown that they are capable of working and being a part of the community.


To find out more about The Arc Jacksonville’s Employment Services Department, contact Susan Hamilton, Vice President, Employment at

Mission Moment: Employment Services

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness month, October’s mission moment features individuals with I/DD who have recently received community employment through The Arc Jacksonville’s Employment Services team.  The individuals we serve have all chosen The Arc Jacksonville to secure employment in the community. 



Wade_BrumosWade –  Brumos Motors (Atlantic Blvd.)

Wade began working as a greeter at Brumos Motor Cars (Atlantic) in early September. During the initial interview with the General Manager, Wade was a promising candidate. A week after his interview he was hired. Wade is responsible for greeting customers as they enter and making them feel welcomed by offering minor refreshments before introducing them to a salesperson. Wade enjoys his job and has made tons of new friends. His future goals include buying a house, getting married and being successful. He encourages other people with I/DD who are looking for employment to “be proactive and flexible.”


 Ryan_WowerRyan – Wowever Thrift and More

Ryan began working at Wowever Thrift and More at the beginning of August and currently works 20 hours a week. He enjoys working each day and having the opportunity to earn his own money and independence. His goal is to live independently in his own apartment. He’s responsible for hanging clothes, sorting through donations and keeping the sales floor neat. Ryan readily accepts new tasks when he is asked to perform something outside of his regular duties.



Andy_ PublixAndyPublix

Andy is a proud, new employee of Publix Super Markets at Reedy Branch Commons. Andy serves as a valuable member of the Publix family as a Front End Service Clerk, where he is responsible for greeting patrons, bagging groceries, collecting carts, and providing exceptional customer service that encourages return customers. Andy is pictured with two of his supervisors, Josh and Ryan, who have succeeded in orchestrating an environment that embraces diversity and promotes both personal and professional development.


1028151405_ cropped JerryJerryBrumos Motors (Orange Park)

Jerry currently works as a greeter at Brumos Motors, Orange Park. According to fellow co-workers, Jerry is the perfect fit for the job; “He’s just who we need to greet our customers.”  He attends FSCJ, pursuing a degree in business.  Jerry is quite computer-proficient, especially in Word and Excel, and he enjoys online social networking.




Lauren_Carrabas_EditedLauren - Carrabba’s

Lauren has worked as a Silverware Preparer at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, for three and a half years. She has recently obtained an increase in hours and now works five days per week. Lauren’s commitment to self-improvement, partnered with her desire to challenge herself, has been her key to success and has contributed to her ability to maintain meaningful employment. Lauren is pictured in-action, rolling silverware with a smile!



Congratulations to everyone on their employment!  We also want to thank our Employment Services team for all their hard work in finding the above individuals community employment. Keep up the good work!

To find out more about The Arc Jacksonville’s Employment Services Department, contact Susan Hamilton, Vice President, Employment at

Click here if you want to learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Employment News & Updates

For the second year The Arc Jacksonville received a Public Service Grant from the City of Jacksonville to underwrite work by Arc’s Employment Services department.  Funding of $125,000
was included in the new City budget adopted for fiscal year 2015-16 that begins October 1.

“This award will enable us to continue the momentum established over the past year in developing relationships with local businesses who are looking to diversify their work force to include persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” explained Susan Hamilton, vice president of employment.

Arc’s employment services staff custom-match the skills of people to needs of companies through pre-screening, job training and on-the-job coaching. Among the 17 individuals recently placed in positions were Haley and Caitlin, two young ladies who have found what they consider “dream jobs.”

Two recent placements are Caitlin and Haley:


Caitlin Holmes StampCaitlin works as a Shipping Associate for Holmes Stamp & Sign, a local company which has been in business since 1954. Caitlin is part of the Shipping Team and values being the newest member. Caitlin loves her new job and looks forward to going to work every day. Arc’s Caitlin Simpson (foreground) is accompanied in the photograph by (l to r) Brian Croft, CEO & President of Holmes Stamp & Sign, Elena Rend, Caitlin Genereaux, Anita Mascioli and Marc Rials.



Haley is a recent graduate of the On Campus Transition program at the University of North Florida.  She loves fashion and aspired to work in a fashionable retail environment. Haley recently began working at Forever 21 as a Store Associate. Forever 21 is her first job, and she enjoys it. She readies clothing for display on the floor and has also learned how to sensor merchandise. When working early mornings, she does some housekeeping to prepare the store for customers. She is also responsible for checking clothing piles for missing price tags and ink sensors and then logging the findings in the loss prevention book.

Mission Moment: SOAR

This month’s mission moment focuses on participants from our SOAR ( Social Opportunities and Adult Recreation) program. The SOAR program began in 1985 as a program for senior adults with disabilities. Over the years the program has expanded to included all ages. Compared to other Arc Jacksonville programs, SOAR is slower paced and more social focused. Participants work on daily living skills, as well as enjoy community outings.  They connect with their peers and develop healthy and friendly relationships with one another. Meet this month’s featured SOAR participants: Theresa, Doug and Sharon.

Theresa Blandino

Theresa B_edited

How long have you been a part of SOAR: Seven months.

What do you like about SOAR: I like the people.

What have you learned since being a part of SOAR: I have learned how to cook, how to respect others and safety.

What are some of your hobbies or interest: Cooking, karate and dancing.

How has SOAR helped to make your life better: I’m able to spend my days with my friends and that makes me happy!

Because of The Arc…I am happier.

Doug Griffin

Doug G. edited

How long have you been a part of SOAR: Almost 2 years

What do you like about SOAR: Bowling and shopping

What have you learned since being a part of SOAR: Safety when crossing the street.

What are some of your hobbies or interest: Darts, bowling, slot machines and spending time with my father on the weekends.

Because of The Arc…I get to go more places in the community.


Sharon Murray

Sharon M_edited

How long have you been a part of SOAR: A little over a year

What do you like about SOAR: I get to do new things here.

What have you learned since being a part of SOAR:  I’ve learned how to cook and make crafts. Also, I’ve learned what to do in case of an emergency.

What are some of your hobbies or interest: Painting, watching movies and Elvis anything!

How has SOAR helped to make your life better:  I have somewhere to go during the day and I have lots of friends.

Because of The Arc…I get to spend time with my sister.

Mission Moment: Summer LIFE

Summer LIFE ( Living Independently Finding Enrichment) is a “crash course” for young adults (ages 18-26) with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in learning how to live independently. A specially designed four-week course allows Summer LIFE participants to experience living on their own.

Throughout the four weeks they participate in different trainings and activities that help develop independent living skills such as cooking, budgeting and healthy lifestyle choices. In this month’s Mission Moment, meet Emily, Miguel and Patrick as they share their Summer LIFE experience with us.

 Miguel Sanchez

Miguel Sanchez







What did you enjoy most about Summer LIFE?
It was fun and exciting to do all the different activities and events.

What was your favorite activity/workshop?
Learning how to budget and swimming in the pool.

What skills did you learn?
How to be independent and budget my money.

How did you feel being away from home?
It was very exciting!

What will you miss about Summer LIFE?
Having my own apartment and my roommates.


Patrick McFeely

Patrick McFeely_cropped







What did you enjoy most about Summer LIFE? Hanging out and having fun with my friends, swimming in the pool, playing basketball and playing pool in the clubhouse.

What was your favorite activity/workshop?
Grocery shopping.

What skills did you learn?
I learned how to clean my room and the kitchen, how to do laundry and how to load the dishwasher and cook.

How did you feel being away from home?
I was very happy and I loved living on my own in my own apartment.

What will you miss about Summer LIFE?
Talking to my house mentor, Wes, and all of my friends.

 Emily DeLisle

Emily DeLisle








What did you enjoy most about Summer LIFE?

Cooking meals for me and my roommate.

What was your favorite activity/workshop?
Going to Sweet Pete’s Downtown.

What skills did you learn?
How to budget and how to get out of my apartment if there is a fire.

How did you feel being away from home?
Good! It made me feel independent.

What will you miss about Summer LIFE?
My friends and my housing mentor, Karen.


For more information on our Summer LIFE Program, Click here to visit the official Summer LIFE page on our website.


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