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Non-profit supports those with disabilities

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For over 60 years, Arc has dedicated itself to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their parents and siblings.

When Arc was formed in 1950, there were virtually no programs to assist in the development and care of children and adults with disabilities, or to support families. It was common at that time for doctors to tell parents that the best place for their child was in an institution. Arc's founders refused to accept that institutionalization was the only option.

Arc set out to educate parents and others regarding the potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and worked to ensure the rights of the disabled were upheld in schools, preschools and the workplace.

Now there are nearly 700 state and local chapters providing a voice for people with disabilities.

A new chapter to serve the residents of Delta, Montrose, Ouray and Gunnison counties is in its formative stage. Danielle Angotti and Mitchell Gronenthal are the driving forces behind Arc of West Central Colorado, and they're looking for at-large board members to round out a 10-member board of directors. When the board reaches 10, the non-profit organization can be "adopted" by the national Arc and become sister organizations to chapters in Durango and Mesa County.

The focus of the Arc of West Central Colorado is advocacy, support and education. "From birth to death, we actively support full inclusion and participation in the community," explained Angotti, board president.

Through collaborative efforts, they hope to create a network of families and professionals who will inspire, educate and empower parents through their journey to become a champion for their children.

"We are hoping the community is open to working collaboratively with us," Angotti said.

The school district, Community Options, Families Plus, Hilltop and local service organizations have been identified as potential partners.

To raise funds for the fledgling organization, a fashion show will be held at the AppleShed in Cedaredge Saturday, Sept. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. Appetizers and beverages will be served at 6 p.m., followed by the fashion show at 7 p.m. "Enchanted Forest" is the evening's theme. Tickets are $20 per person or $30 for a couple.

Mitchell Gronenthal, Arc of West Central Colorado's vice president, said the goal is to raise $5,000. Funds will be used for guest speakers, educational workshops for parents and professionals, and eventually a paid advocate. Currently, an advocate from the Mesa County chapter is traveling to Delta County to sit in when individual education programs, or IEPs, are developed for school-age children with special needs.

Angotti and Gronenthal welcome participation from anyone interested in the fashion show.

"We'll need people to help with teardown and setup," Gronenthal said. "We're also looking for models, particularly children or adults with disabilities."

Sponsorships are available at the silver, gold and platinum level, and donations for the silent auction would be much appreciated.

Brad Kolman and Kami Collins are hosting the fashion show. Tickets can be purchased in Cedaredge at the AppleShed and Réve Portraits, and in Delta at The Garden Center and Mortgage Solutions Financial. Tickets may also be available at the door, but there are no guarantees.

For more information about the fashion show or Arc of Western Colorado, contact Angotti at (970) 200-7163 or (970) 712-0970.

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