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Service Learning Experience Association for Retarded Citizens

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I am currently participating in the Colorado Workforce/Work Experience Program, which is organized by Arapahoe/Douglas Works! A/D Works! is a public/private partnership, that takes pride on their ability to work with a variety of organizations, including business and community groups. In addition, they have a workforce board made up of individuals who provide guidance and assistance to their mission of improving the quality of life in Arapahoe and Douglas counties. (As cited in http://www.adworks.org)

One of their primary concerns is seeing that individuals find rewarding employment, but also realize that work alone it not enough some are looking for basic needs to get by. There are a number of different types of needs offered such as violence prevention, health care, food, housing, family planning, day care and mental health. To offer these services, the Works maintains a total of 4 Resource Centers, one at CentrePoint Plaza in Aurora, Arapahoe Plaza in Littleton, Lone Tree, and Castle Rock. For me, the closest location was CentrePoint Plaza in Aurora, where I met Bonnie Doom, one of the workforce specialists.

Both of us sat down for an hour and discussed what the requirements would be in order to receive assistance. Based upon my assessment and plan developed, it was determined that I would be participating in the Work Experience Program. She briefly went over the guidelines and explained to me what the expectations were:

Observe the working hours and work rules as established by the work experience site, attend all job interviews arranged by the workforce specialist, communicate with the supervisor and Workforce specialist regarding site progress or problems and notify the Workforce specialist immediately if I feel that I have good cause for not participating or continuing the Work Experience assignment. (Colorado Works/Workfare Assignment Agreement and Guidelines, 2007)

While going over the contract, Bonnie mentioned that the site supervisor will provide a short orientation going over the rules and regulations, the task I will be performing, as well as go over any training , supervision or equipment necessary to perform the task itself. A record for the day and hours of attendance will be keep. Once the task has been completed, an evaluation report will be prepared and signed by the workforce supervisor. The site was to be non-profit; the only organization contracted with Arapahoe/Douglas Works was the Association for Retarded Citizens or other known as A.R.C. I was assigned as a Production Worker at one of their local thrift stores and was required to complete four hours.

Perfect, because part of the service learning assignment was to volunteer at a site 'outside our comfort zone" for at least four hours. Before I left her office, Bonnie gave me the option to chose which location I will be performing my work experience assignment. Those locations were Mississippi and Sable, Parker and Dartmouth or Iliff and Evans. I chose the A.R.C located off Mississippi and Sable, prior doing this assignment that was the only location I was familiar with. But before going into my service experience, I would like to talk a little bit about the actual organization.

Founded more than 50 years ago by a small group of parents, when little was known about the condition of mental retardation or it causes. The Arc today is the world's largest grassroots organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A movement committed to providing support and services, across the life span of individuals with disabilities who focus on helping families. To ensure that any person with a disability is afforded the rights, duties, responsibilities and full participation as citizens in their community. (As cited in http://www.thearc.org) In the early days the association worked to change the public's perception of children with mental retardation and to educated parents and others regarding the potential of people with mental retardation. According to www.thearcofco.org, the Arc also worked to procure services for children and adults who were denied day care, preschool, education, and work programs.

The Arc's network of chapters share a common thread or "core values" that consists of People First, Community Participation, Democracy, Visionary Leadership, Diversity, Integrity, and Excellence. The Colorado chapter was founded in 1954. At that time the organization was known



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