Schenectady ARC (Advocacy, Resources, Choices), a not-for-profit organization, has been serving county residents with developmental disabilities since 1952.
We’re what we would call a family-based organization, said Mark Denofio, director of public relations for Schenectady ARC.
`It was founded in 1952 by parents who were looking for options for their children at the time. And to preface that whole thing, what the state had in place at the time wasn’t what parents were really seeking for their children. If you were familiar with the facilities, who would want to subject their children to those kinds of conditions,` said Denofio.
The program, which initially started as a small classroom-size environment in some of the local schools in Schenectady, grew from there to an agency that serves more than 1,000 families. The program currently has two day-treatment facilities, which are `traditional facilities` where people go for learning skills to `continue to keep the fundamentals in front of individuals,` and there is a facility for more intensive treatment where people who aren’t as mobile go for more intensive treatment.
That’s not all. `The gamut of services runs wild,` according to Denofio.
`We run a day program for working, which is our workshop program where individuals come in for the day and work. They make a salary,` said Denofio.
`We have over 19 residential homes throughout Schenectady County. We run our own transportation, and we have a clinic here at the State Street facility where the basic purpose is to provide medical services for our population of individuals we serve.`
Schenectady ARC offers family support programs, school programs for younger individuals with disabilities in conjunction with the YMCA at the Scotia Glenville Schools and more.
`We’re part of a bigger organization called NYSARC, which is a statewide organization for individuals with disabilities,` said Denofio.
The organization’s day program for working is expansive.
There is one program where people participating in the program go out into the workforce, and there is also a program where individuals stay at a worksite, which is a large production site.
`It’s more of a plant floor where you would see a lot of things going into production,` said Denofio.
`They employ about 130 people at the facilities so anyone who is working on the projects is, for the most part, with a disability,` said Denofio.
However, he noted that there are floor supervisors and others without disabilities supervising.
Projects the group has worked on include everything from assembling windshield wipers for every state trooper vehicle in the state to assembling CD packages to be sent out to various music stores.
`Whether they have a disability or not, that’s not what comes into the factoring when these companies look into their qualifications for the job,` said Denofio.
`It’s about whether it’s the right fit financially and if we can turn that project around in the time that they need it,` said Denofio.
However, participants in the organization aren’t the only ones who can find employment through Schenectady ARC. According to Linda Lahaie, executive director of Schenectady ARC, despite the tough job market, there are plenty of jobs available for people to work at Schenectady ARC.
`We’re very focused on employing people to serve our population because obviously we’re a very labor-intensive business, and without a really wonderful staff, we can’t offer services to anyone,` said Lahaie. `We have a number of job openings and we have marvelous benefits and training and tuition reimbursement for people who want to go on to get a college education.`
She said there are various positions opened, ranging from bus drivers to mechanics to clinicians, psychologists and doctors.
`It’s something that I think people don’t immediately think of when they think of us,` said Lahaie.
For information about job opportunities at Schenectady ARC, visit www.arcschenectady.org or stop by its personnel office at 214 State St., Schenectady.“