Arc Celebrates Staff, Logo, and Mission
Arc recently celebrated its second annual employment appreciation day at the Spanish Hills Country Club. Pictured from left to right: Former CEO Fred Robinson, Julie Duran, current CEO Patricia Schulz, Martha Jensen, director of clinical services Paula Johnson, Andy Mack and Luly Antimo. (Photo Credit: Tim Pompey)
By Tim Pompey
For those who have not followed Arc closely in the last few years, the old name (which used to refer to what Arc administrators call the “R” word) as well as its reputation for warehousing its clients is long gone. Today’s Arc has a new logo, a new slogan, and its current approach has more to do with advocacy than daycare.
This was quite evident at Arc of Ventura County’s second annual Employee Appreciation Day held at the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo on Monday, April 1. The room was filled with enthusiastic employees who sported fresh black T-shirts emblazoned with Arc’s new orange logo.
For recently retired executive director Fred Robinson, all of this is a sea change from when he started working with Arc in June of 1990 on the campus of the Camarillo State Hospital. “I think a lot of the stigma, a lot of the isolation has disappeared,” he said. “When I first started, everybody had to be in large sheltered workshops making minimum wage. Now we believe that people should have equal access to everything as well as a place to live and a good job.”
Arc works with more than 700 developmentally disabled children and adults across the county and employs approximately 260 staff to take care of their needs. Services range from after school programs to community employment to training for independent living.
Because of the nature of its mission, Arc employees find that their work is much more personal and fulfilling. “I enjoy just coordinating services for those who wouldn’t normally be able to access them,” said Raul Gonzalez, a case manager from Simi Valley. “They’re more than friends. They’re more like a second family away from home.”
Paula Johnson, Arc of Ventura County’s director of clinical services, believes that the clients she works with make her job unique and special. “Every day that I come to work,” she said, “I can make a difference in someone’s life, and I know that when I’m working with someone, I have become their mother, father, sister, uncle and their advocate.”
Johnson asserts that Arc’s main mission is really about empowerment. “We look at their abilities, not their disabilities,” she said. “We’re going to find the best that someone can do and make them better.”
Patty Schulz, the new CEO of Arc of Ventura County, appreciates the fact that Arc originated from a group of caring parents who wanted to improve their children’s lives. Having worked previously as a human resource manager in a corporate setting, she noted the distinction between the two environments. “It’s a grassroots organization,” she explained. “It’s a group of parents that got together and wanted something better for their kids. And for those who work there, they still want to carry that mission forward.”
Schulz thinks that the new logo and the new tag line, Achieve with us, reflect an evolution in attitudes toward the disabled both within the organization and in the local communities they serve. “I think this is so exciting. Arc is now less about people’s disabilities and more about achievement.”
Reflecting his organization’s new attitude and approach, Robinson sees today’s Arc serving as an advocate for his clients’ basic civil rights. “People with disabilities are probably the last categorical element of our society discriminated against simply because they’re disabled,” he said. “We’re into ending that.”