Lee Association for Remarkable Citizens (LARC) is celebrating its 69th anniversary in Southwest Florida. Established in 1954, the non-profit’s mission is to empower and support individuals with disabilities (IDD) and their families to reach their full potential.
“LARC was founded in 1954 by parents whose children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were not allowed to attend public schools,” said Angela Katz, LARC’s executive director. “Today, LARC is a training center for success. LARC serves more than 300 individuals annually, and participants range from 14 to 80. We continue to fight prejudice and misconceptions regarding intellectual and developmental disabilities and educate the public to recognize a person’s abilities rather than disabilities.”
LARC’s Adult Day Training program is designed to enhance abilities and help individuals live happier, more productive, and independent lives. Activities include self-care, daily living skills, and various pre-vocational and life skill opportunities. In addition, opportunities are provided to increase fine and gross motor activities, communication skills, academic skills, positive behavioral approaches, independent living skills, social skills, and recreation and leisure skills.
Learn, Achieve, Become (LAB) is an on-campus experiential learning environment that transforms traditional program areas into spaces for innovation, vocation, demonstration, and learning. Five Labs focus on work and independent living skills and include Lab for Living, Wellness Lab, Smart Living Lab, Vocational Exploration Lab, and Collaboration Lab. LARC provided more than 100,000 hours of life skills training last year.
This year, LARC will break ground on its Commercial Culinary Training Kitchen. The commercial kitchen will be utilized to train individuals with disabilities for work in the hospitality industry. “In 2018, we identified significant gaps in the workforce in Southwest Florida, particularly in food service,” said Katz. “It is one of the largest industries in our area and we want to help businesses fill the gaps while doing what we do best – assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their potential. In this space, staff will deliver training specifically-designed for the food service and hospitality industry. Also, we will customize the training to the individuals’ needs so they can thrive.”
LARC’s Campus Employment provides opportunities for individuals to explore career opportunities while earning wages. LARC partners with local businesses to provide packaging and assembly work, and LARC’s Woodshop constructs and sells custom wood products. Last year, 32,000 hours of paid wages were paid through campus employment opportunities.
LARC’s Community and Employment Support Services provide ongoing assistance to individuals living in their homes, including medical, medication, money management, grocery shopping, obtaining benefits, exploration of community resources, and other needs. In addition, Supported Employment is a service for individuals who require support services to obtain and succeed in competitive employment. More than 200 individuals are employed through LARC programs.
LARC’s residential group homes provide room/board and 24-hour supervision in a person-centered, home-like environment. Individuals are provided with life skills training, including meal preparation, homemaking skills, personal hygiene, medication awareness, and budgeting. Healthcare management is provided, and individuals are educated regarding overall health and well-being. Residents participate in group and individual community inclusion and recreational activities.
This year LARC will break ground on a new home that will replace a home in North Fort Myers that Hurricane Ian destroyed. LARC will work in partnership with Steven R. Bowen Construction, Designers + Builders Unite, established by Dwayne Bergmann, owner and principal designer of Dwayne Bergmann Interiors, and Stacey Callahan, publisher of Luxe Interiors + Design Florida, to create a customized space where residents feel safe, comfortable and at home.
LARC’s main campus is located at 2570 Hanson Street, Fort Myer. LARC also operates two Residential Group Homes.
To learn more about LARC and its mission to empower and support individuals with disabilities and their families to reach their full potential, visit www.larcleecounty.org or contact Angela Katz at 239-334-6285 x210 or [email protected].
Established in 1954, LARC is a training center for success for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. LARC serves more than 300 individuals annually, and participants range from 14 to 80.
LARC offers vocational training, youth programs, community residential and employment services, and a vast array of other state-of-the-art community inclusion services on a full-time, year-round basis. LARC’s main campus is located at 2570 Hanson Street, Fort Myers. LARC also operates two Residential Group Homes.