MARSHALL - It's an organization that can help people make their voices heard. But right now, the Arc of Southwest Minnesota is also hoping to make more area residents aware of the services they offer, said Pat Brooks, the group's regional coordinator for Lyon, Lincoln, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties.
The Arc is a private, non-profit national organization that offers information and support for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities and their families. The group was founded in the 1950s by volunteers and families of children with disabilities.
"It's a great organization. (The Arc of Southwest Minnesota) serves 18 counties, and we serve children, adults and families," Brooks said. "We're there to support them." In a time when many publicly-funded services may be facing down budget cuts, she said, that local support is crucial.
Although the Arc of Southwest Minnesota does receive some grant funding and support from organizations like United Way, Brooks said the group does not receive federal or state money. This makes local support through memberships and fundraisers even more important, she said.
Part of the effort is Arc of Southwest Minnesota's ongoing rose sale fundraiser with Marshall Hy-Vee. Proceeds will go toward continuing the Arc's programs and services, Brooks said.
Brooks said the area chapter of the Arc offers information and services ranging from housing access to family support, providing social opportunities, and teaching people with disabilities how to speak up for their rights.
Area membership numbers and participation had been down in the past few years, Brooks said, and the organization is trying to increase awareness of what it does.
"We just want to get the word out to everyone that Arc is back," Brooks said.
She said in the future she also hopes to start some new efforts, like a group that helps provide social and support connections for area families.
The Arc rose sale fundraiser will run through March 22. Both red roses and a "lollipop" pastel color variety are available, Brooks said. A dozen roses are $20 and can be ordered by calling 507-336-3065.
Roses will be available for pickup at the Marshall Hy-Vee on April 11.
More information about the Arc in southwest Minnesota, including ways to get involved, is available online at www.arcmnsw.org.