WHO WE ARE
Since 1954, LARC, Inc. has dedicated itself to meeting with quality and foresight the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families living in Lee County and northern Collier County. Our mission now, as it was then, is to empower and support people with disabilities and their families to achieve their full potential. LARC, Inc. accomplishes this mission through the provision of a continuum of award winning community based services, using timely, individualized, goal-oriented methods. LARC, Inc. offers vocational training, community residential services, and a vast diversity of other state-of-the-art community inclusion services on a full time, year round basis for local people with developmental disabilities. LARC, Inc. currently provides programs and services for approximately 300 local men and women annually. Many of these individuals participate in several of LARC’s various community programs.
LARC, Inc. has been working diligently for over six decades to educate the southwestern Florida community about developmental disabilities. We work continuously to fight prejudice and misconceptions regarding intellectual and developmental disabilities and educate the public to recognize a person’s abilities, rather than disabilities. Our efforts focus on helping all local people with disabilities live happier, fuller, and more productive lives in the community as independently as each is able…with full community inclusion.
1954 – LARC was Founded
The foundation for The Lee County Association for Retarded Children was basically laid when a mother, in desperation, began a campaign for an organization that became a reality and has grown and prospered with the help of many for more than 60 years.
1960 – Riverside School Opened
The Riverside School became a reality and held Open House in the Fall of 1960 with Annie Lee Johnson & Barbara Vandercook as teachers. There were 21 children ages 6 to 17 enrolled in the school. Four more joined the group within a week.
Teacher Annie Lee Johnson with A.E. Harrison
1962 – The First Workshop Day Program Opened
Plans for a Sheltered Workshop were put into motion. The community was again asked to participate in the funding of this project at a cost of $30,000.
Groundbreaking took place March 1st, 1961. On June 20, 1962 the Sheltered Workshop began operation with six trainees. The Facility could handle 20 trainees and very shortly hit its maximum.
1964 – LARC Booklet Distributed Nationwide
At the bottom of the booklet in small letters were printed: “Published by the Lee County Association for Retarded Children.”
This booklet was written and cartooned by Margaret DeMarco explained that “some people are different”. It was distributed in the beginning to only local schools by members of LARC who took the time to explain the meaning of the booklet.
This caused a landslide and soon the booklets were distributed nation-wide. LARC made the big time!
1979 – Non-Work Program Initiated
A non-work oriented program was Initiated In 1979 to serve the more severely handicapped client. Adapt was housed in a screened area next to the existing workshop. This section was then renovated and dedicated to Annie Lee Johnson upon her retirement from the teaching profession in 1981.
LARC Teacher Annie Lee Johnson Retires After 21 Years: New Building Dedicated to Her