This year, the Arc of Somerset County celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the larger Somerset County community. From its humble beginning in 1972 with just 16 service recipients and two employees, The Arc has since grown to serving more than 1,400 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families each year. The agency provides a lifetime of comprehensive services, advocacy and support to this population to promote growth, achievement and ongoing involvement in the community.
The Arc movement and The Arc of Somerset County have seen many advancements locally and nationally in the past half-decade. In 1973, the federal government passed Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in federally funded public spaces and programs. In 1978, The National Council on Disability within the U.S. Department of Education was founded to promote policies and programs that increase opportunity and inclusion for individuals with disabilities. In 1986, it recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act and drafted the first version of the bill. Former Arc of New Jersey and Arc of Somerset County board member and parent advocate Fred Patterson was present at the signing of this landmark law in 1990.
In June, the agency celebrated its Golden Anniversary during its annual Arc Angel Gala. In addition to the people who it serves, among those in attendance were longtime supporters Jack Ciattarelli and Arc of New Jersey executive director Tom Baffuto, along with the agency’s staff, partners and volunteers past and present who have worked together to advance a mission 50 years in the making.
“It has been an honor to serve this outstanding organization. With the support of the board and our leadership team, we have made significant progress in driving positive change for the individuals we serve in our communities,” says Lauren Frary, who served as executive director for the past 15 years.
“Lauren’s work on behalf of our consumers, families, staff and boards has been a constant presence. During our 50th anniversary year, I am grateful and humbled to continue the conversation in service and advocacy that Lauren has led. The example she has set will remain our benchmark long into the future,” says Christopher Corvino, who became executive director in July.
“We are excited to welcome Chris to his new position. He will play a key role in the future of The Arc and our services for children, adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” says Michael Stefani, president of the board of directors.
The Arc of Somerset County looks forward to expansions in key program areas, including increased service at Camp Jotoni in Warren, more social programming and a burgeoning alumni association at The Achievement Center at Raritan Valley Community College as well as occupational, speech and physical therapeutic services for day and residential consumers.
Find out more about the Arc of Somerset County’s services and its year-long 50th anniversary celebrations—including “The Arc’s Got Talent” annual talent show in November, which features live and recorded performances and is supported by a Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission Local Arts Program grant—at thearcofsomerset.org.