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Individuals served by local Arc Chapter benefit from housing funds!

Over the years, the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) has provided funds to help thousands of lower-income Floridians in their communities. To show the critical importance of this program, the Florida Housing Coalition is highlighting some of SHIP’s many successes.

Sherry Ruszkowski, the executive director of The Arc in Bradford County, worked closely with the Bradford County Community Development Department.

Here is her story:
Just a few years ago, The Arc in Bradford County had approval and funding to build a six-bedroom group home for women with various levels of disabilities. “We thought it would be fairly simple because we owned the property,” says Sherry Ruszkowski, Arc executive director. But then the project fell through because the low-lying property would have needed so much alteration that the cost became prohibitive.

“It was very disheartening,” says Sherry. But not for long.
Sherry teamed up with Kelly Canady, the SHIP administrator in Bradford, and they came up with a plan to renovate Stella’s Place, an aging building that was home to disabled women from 49- to 78-years-old. “The big issue was the house had older ladies in it, and it was not accessible anymore” Sherry recalls.

By the end of 2017, Stella’s Place had undergone a major makeover. All interior and exterior doorways were widened according to ADA accessibility requirements. Likewise, all bathrooms were updated to ADA standards,
with walk-in showers, ADA compliant sinks, grab bars, accessible toilets and surface-mounted medicine cabinets. In addition, a new fire control system was installed. Other repairs included features commonly involved in many SHIP rehabs—new metal roof, new windows, new HVAC and septic system and carpet replaced by tile to reduce the risk of residents tripping.

One of the renovations most popular with the residents is a new screened-in porch. “The ladies love it,” Sherry says. Another big hit is a covered walkway to the driveway that includes handrails. “Now when the ladies come out of the house to get on the bus they won’t get rained on,” Sherry says. “The bus can pull right up to the awning, and they don’t have to get wet at all.”

Sherry says none of this would have been possible without SHIP.
“I’m just very thankful that she (Kelly) was willing to step out and try to develop new strategies to help us because without that we would not have been able to get all of the work done on the house.”

Here We Grow Again!

The Arc of Florida is thrilled to welcome our newest addition to the Arc family–The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project!

The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community-based organization of volunteers dedicated to promoting awareness and facilitating support of parents caring for their children/young adults with special health care needs.

As part of their mission to “to provide the tools for a therapeutic and fun experience to children and young adults with physical and developmental needs,” the M.O.R.G.A.N. Project established a multi-sensory wonderland center called Morgan’s Place.

Morgan’s Place is a fun place for children with special needs to come and stimulate their senses in an environment that is uniquely created just for them. The facility offers multiple therapeutic spaces including:

The Sensorium– a “white room” filled with sights, sounds, textures, and aromas and used to stimulate, calm, relax, or energize.

The Moon Room– a “black room” filled with sights, sounds, textures, and aromas and used to stimulate, calm, relax, or energize – all UV reactive under the black lights!

The Rainbow Room– a Soft-Play Zone, for our special-needs children and young adults that are mobile and need a place that allows them to explore at their own ‘speed’. This area focuses on vestibular activities and creative expression.

The Technology Zone– This awesome area offers plenty of room for creative activities and our Augmentative Communication Center with iPads and switch activated toys! The floor has liquid gel tiles that move underneath your feet or wheels.

Please visit The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project to learn more about the services and programs they provide for families, caregivers and individuals with disabilities!