ARC to open new center at Prince of PeaceFeb 18th, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: News
Adults with intellectual disabilities that are living in the parish will soon have a community center to call their own, at the former Prince of Peace Rectory in Chalmette.
Arc of Greater New Orleans, an organization created in 1953 as a network of support for families with children with intellectual disabilities, is behind the project which will provide employment, recreational and social opportunities to people age 18 and older with intellectual disabilities in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward.
One feature the new center will have is a farming area where program participants may grow flowers, vegetables and herbs.
However, working is only one of the services the Prince of Peace Center plans to offer.
“Along with jobs, we have a very progressive health and fitness program,” said Valerie St. Amant, associate director of dayhabilition with ARC.
St. Amant said tennis and water aerobics are some of the activities that will be made available on a daily basis.
The new community center in Chalmette will join three other ARC adult bases throughout the metro New Orleans area; the others are located in Metairie, Westwego and Uptown New Orleans.
The addition of a site in St. Bernard will be more convenient for the participants who live in the parish.
There was a former ARC location in St. Bernard Parish, the Schindler Center, but it disbanded after Hurricane Katrina.
Tom Barnes, Director of Employment Service/Individual Option at Arc of Greater New Orleans, said the Prince of Peace building will accommodate between 60 and 75 people, though he expects a smaller group at first, and they will grow as they go.
Currently, the Prince of Peace building is hollow, with a completed outer shell. All of the construction work necessary will be done with volunteer labor, according to Polly Campbell, who spearheaded the campaign.
“The people in St. Bernard know how to gut, they known hot to insulate, they know how to paint,” said Campbell.
The groundbreaking kicks off the fundraising campaign to transform the Prince of Peace building, and contributions of money, labor, materials or plants are all accepted.
Campbell said her second child, who is now 14, was born with Down syndrome. Reading about the challenges adults with intellectual disabilities face sparked her interest in getting involved, she said.
“Everything in my life brought me to this point today,” said Campbell.
The Prince of Peace ARC Center is anticipated to be completed this summer. To make a donation call 504.837.5140.