About The Arc of Monroe
and Its History
The Arc of Monroe has been providing a variety of programs and services for over 1,400 people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families in the Rochester community for over 65 years. The Arc works to enhance the quality of life and self-esteem of people in our programs, providing them with meaningful social development, supported employment, residential community living and enrichment opportunities. The Arc is funded in part by the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The Arc also receives funding from Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR).
The Arc of Monroe has 40 locations in Monroe County that assist people with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities that include Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorders among others.
A wide array of services are offered through The Arc for people with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities such as living opportunities in our group homes and residences, volunteer opportunities in the community, unique and creative individualized day services programs, job training is offered through our ArcWorks facility and placement through our Job Path Program.
The Arc Foundation of Monroe raises and manages funds to enhance the quality of life for people who are part of The Arc of Monroe. A variety of important enjoyable fundraising efforts provides financial support for programs vital to The Arc’s social, recreational and organizational activities.
At The Arc of Monroe, we are proud of our history of helping others, but we are just as proud of our commitment to the future, ensuring that people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families will continue to be offered the highest quality, most innovative programs and services available.
When Judge Robert Wagner, his wife Winnie, and several other Rochester-area parents met for the first time in the mid-1950’s to discuss possible services for their children and others with developmental disabilities, the landscape was markedly different from today. There were no services. Public knowledge of the issue was minimal. There was no funding. They not only had to build a non-profit organization from scratch, but raise awareness and funds for a previously “hidden need,” since persons with developmental disabilities were usually institutionalized.
Today, our founders still marvel at the changes they helped bring about. It took years of hard work and an unceasing commitment to bring radical change in how people with developmental disabilities were looked upon and supported. And these parents did this not just for their children, but for others in their community with developmental disabilities. Their unselfish commitment helped transform Monroe County into a more diverse, accepting and caring community.
1956-1966 - Pioneers of Change
In early 1950s, parents from Monroe, and surrounding counties formed the Sunshine League for Retarded Children of Western New York to support both children and parents. In 1956, The Sunshine League became the Monroe County Chapter, Association for the Help of Retarded Children, Inc. (AHRC) and The Honorable Robert Wagner was elected president of the Board of Directors. They organized the first major fund drive with volunteers, parents and siblings going door-to-door to solicit donations. They raised $50,000, the equivalent of $250,000 today.
1967-1976 - Opening Doors
Moved administrative offices to the Al Sigl Center with other agencies for people with disabilities. Opened the first community residence in Rochester on East Henrietta Road. The 3-story house was completely renovated to create a more accessible ranch style home for 15 people. Its distinctive entrance gave it the nickname “Green Door.” Three more community residences on Brooks Avenue, Austin Street, and Denise Road were opened as well as supervised and supported apartments at Southview Towers on South Avenue. During this time period, the Arc of Monroe became standby guardian for four individuals, beginning one of the first Guardianship programs for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
1977-1986 - New Homes and Jobs
Opened four residences on Church Street, Driving Park, Homewood Lane, and Gorsline Street, providing services for 37 individuals. Ridgemont Day Training became Ballantyne Day Treatment Program — serving 110 individuals. Crittenden Day Treatment Program opened — serving 90 individuals — later becoming Southwest Day Program. Established Job Path, placing individuals in competitive jobs in the community. It was the first of its kind in Western New York, and continues to be the largest in the region. Opened our 1st Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) on Ward Hill Road for 10 people.
1987-1996 - A Decade of Firsts
Started Arc DeliWorks, a small food services program in the Al Sigl Center cafeteria. Opened our first Jewish culture residence on Shaftsbury Road. This was the first one in the state outside of New York City. Formed the Arc Foundation of Monroe. Opened the first Individual Residential Alternative (IRA) in New York State on Rockingham Street. IRAs provided smaller, more family- like living environments. Opened three more on Homestead Drive, Crescent Road, and Village Lane. Began the RIT Enrichment Program, a one week summer college experience that allowed 30-40 individuals to spend a week on campus taking classes of interest to them. This was the first, and now, the longest running program of its kind in the state.
1997-2006 - An Arc for All Ages
“Day of Champions” Golf Tournament first teed off. Started ArcWorks, our 3rd Sheltered Employment Program on Mustard Street, for 50 adults. Began providing Service Coordination for all ages, which gave adolescents transitioning from high school a seamless transition to adult services. Opened the first IRA for individuals under the age of 21 on Middle Road in Rush. Formed the Gregory Street Blues Band at our Community Arts Connections.
2007-2016 - Community Partnerships
Launched Rochester’s first Project SEARCH® job training program at URMC with Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES, ACCES-VR, Finger Lakes DDSO, and Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities. High School Project SEARCH® at the City of Rochester followed a few years later with the Rochester City Schools. Kicked off the Arc’s first capital campaign, “In the Name of Love.” raising $4.5 million to renovate our center on W. Henrietta Rd and renamed it the James V. C. and Anita Lambert Enrichment Campus, thanks to a generous leadership gift from Anita Lambert, whose daughter receives services there. Started LifePrep@Naz, a four-year college experience with Victor School District and Nazareth College. Began ROC Your Flight, a partnership with TSA and the Greater Rochester International Airport to help prepare individuals with I/DD for flying. Opened Culinary Career Prep, a hands-on pre vocational and vocational service at the ArcDeli on Lyell Avenue.
2017-Current - Work Opportunities
Launched Adult Project SEARCH, a collaborative with the DelMonte Hotel Group, University of Rochester Medical Center, ACCES-VR and OPWDD. This is an extensive one-year internship program where people learn important skills to be competitive in the workplace. In 2018, we launched the SELF at the Strong program, an employment readiness service located at The Strong National Museum of Play, a collaboration with AutismUp, Monroe One BOCES designed specifically for people with autism. Transitioned ArcWorks into a community pre-vocational service designed to offer career exploration to people interested in obtaining competitive employment in the community in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, food service, hospitality, and more. Expansion of our supported employment opportunities at Job Path, including an Employment Training Program (ETP).