Lee Association for Remarkable Citizens Celebrates 70 Years

LARC Clients and Staff

Lee Association of Remarkable Citizens (LARC) celebrated its 70th anniversary with a luncheon on March 13 at Marian Hall at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Fort Myers. Established in 1954, LARC Inc. is a training center for success that provides support services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson read a proclamation from The City of Fort Myers, recognizing March as Intellectual and Developmental Disability Awareness Month.

LARC’s executive director, Angela Katz, recognized key individuals who have contributed to the organization’s success over the past 70 years.

• Bobbi Griffin’s parents were among the founding members of LARC in 1954, along with other parents whose children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were initially excluded from public schools.

Walter Johnson, Bobbi Griffin, Janette Johnson and Cathi Wheeler

• Kathy Bradley’s family also played a crucial role in LARC’s establishment as founding members. Kathy herself participated in LARC programs for many years. Her brother Roger served as the executive director for thirty-one years, and her brother Brian is currently a member of the LARC board of directors. Additionally, the family generously donated the property that became a group home.
• Judy Rogers has been a dedicated instructor at LARC for 34 years, contributing significantly to the organization’s mission.
• Ross Webb’s commitment to LARC is evident through his 36 years of service on the board of directors, providing valuable guidance and support.
• Representative Jenna Persons-Mulicka’s efforts were instrumental in securing state funding for LARC’s commercial culinary training kitchen, enhancing opportunities for participants.
• Marc Collins established a meaningful scholarship fund at LARC to honor his late wife, Lori Carroll-Collins, leaving a lasting impact on the organization and its members.

“As we reflect on the rich tapestry of LARC’s history and celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past, it’s crucial that we turn our attention towards the horizon and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Katz.

Judy Rogers and Angela Katz

She highlighted LARC’s upcoming initiatives that include:
• A commercial culinary training kitchen that will offer a 4-month curriculum designed to create a path to employment in the food service industry while providing healthy meals to our Adult Day Training participants, supporting our Health and Wellness program, and addressing food insecurities.
• Innovative partnerships and programs with medical and emergency professionals. This program is designed to educate them to better understand and support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our goal is to create a more inclusive healthcare and emergency response system that recognizes and respects every individual’s unique needs and abilities. Our current partnerships include Florida SouthWestern State College, Keiser University, and Nova Southeastern University.
• FGCU’s Music Therapy program is another partnership that has significantly impacted our clients. This collaboration has led us to explore a multitude of other opportunities.
• Expanding our partnerships and forging connections with businesses that recognize the value of a diverse and dedicated workforce. We have over 74 employment partners committed to creating inclusive workplaces and providing opportunities for individuals with unique abilities.
• The construction of a 4800-square-foot group home in Cape Coral that is fully ADA-equipped will meet the needs of all individuals with unique abilities. It will be completed in the summer of 2024.

Todd Swaney, Marcia Ross, Marc Collins, Randall Barber, Juan Santiago

“The landscape of our community is evolving, and with it, the demands for services and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities”, said Katz. “As we look ahead, we are inspired by the possibilities that lie before us and energized by the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in our community for the next 70 years!”

To learn more about LARC or donate, visit www.larcleecounty.org or contact Angela Katz, Executive Director, at 239-334-6285 x210 or [email protected].

About LARC

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 81.