ARC Services of Rutherford Polk changes names

Published 5:30 pm Monday, February 28, 2011

No longer affiliated with The ARC of North Carolina or The ARC of the United States, the ARC of Rutherford Polk, which provides social services for individuals with developmental disabilities, is now the Foothills Social Network.
Board treasurer Francis Tatnall said the group will retain its 501(c)(3) status. He said while the board is sad about the change he believes it will be beneficial in the long run.
He said the board didn’t think it could spare even the $350 the national organization was asking for annual dues. After all, he said they operate on less than $5,000 annually.
“As a result of our announcement we’ve got a bit more interest from people who haven’t been involved before,” Tatnall said. “We are a relatively small group – many of us getting older – and we need to keep focused on what we do best.”
What they do best, Tatnall said, is provide a social network for individuals with developmental disabilities.
About 70 people typically show up for bowling and pizza in Forest City once a year, Tatnall said. The group also hosts a Funfest in the fall with bingo and prizes, a hayride and refreshments. Then near the holidays they enjoy the Jinglebell Hop, a dance at the Episcopal Church in Tryon.
“The folks with developmental disabilities have a difficult time finding places to socialize,” Tatnall said. “Many of them live in group homes or with parents, and transportation problems prevent them from getting together. They need a place where they can be sure they’re not going to get harassed or be made fun of – they need to be made comfortable.”
Many also have very limited resources, Tatnall added. He said the Foothills Social Network wants to improve their lives in any way they can.
“We could either spend all we have on dues to the larger parent organizations, or continue to provide the social experiences we have established that enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness,” the board said in a statement.
The group organized eight years ago. Since then they have received most of their funding through local community organizations  such as Thermal Belt Rotary and businesses such as Walmart and Zaxby’s. Members also pay regular dues.
“It varies,” Tatnall said. “Sometimes we think we are going to go out of business but then someone will come along and donate a few hundred dollars to allow us to do another event,” he said.
Anyone interested in participating, volunteering, becoming a member or donating can call 828-859-7099 in Polk County. Donations may be sent to Foothills Social Network, P.O. Box 501, Rutherfordton, N.C. 28139.

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