Since its humble beginning in 1950, Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara has come a long way. While locals have heard and supported Alpha Thrift Stores, owned and operated by the nonprofit ARC, many remain unaware of the wide range of programs offered, from birth through adult years, to our community of people with developmental disabilities.
As Alpha Resource Center has grown to serve more than 1,200 families in Santa Barbara County and with an operating budget of $4 million, it remains dedicated to the core objective of the three mothers who founded the organization with $12 in the bank. As clearly stated in its mission statement, ARC is “committed to supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members throughout the individual’s life span.”
Mirroring the values at ARC, its employees encourage participants to identify their strengths and assist them in shaping their own hopes, dreams and goals.
“We expect people to have jobs, to contribute through volunteer work, to join the local gym, to explore their creativity through art and music, and we expect people to have friends and be connected with a wide circle of others,” said Kimberly Olson, Alpha Resource Center executive director.
Actor and singer, Beverly Bev Jerep has reaped the benefits of ARC programs since 1977. Aside from her lead role in the organization’s 2007 annual theatrical performance, Jerep earns money as team player on a work crew fulfilling weekly gardening and upkeep duties at East Beach, the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.
“I like work crew a whole lot. I know for one thing, I feel good about myself,” Jerep said. Working together on a work crew is all about helping each other out; its about teamwork.”
At the end of their work period, crew members are given paychecks that they cash with the help of ARC staff.
Jerep enjoys the experience.
“I like to get paid,” she said. “When I get paid, I look at my paycheck and I sign my paycheck. I take some for pocket cash and save the rest.”
Julie Badella, manager of Alpha Adult Services, works closely with ARC participants to uncover their potential in our community.
A long time ago, we’d decide what (the participants) should be doing. Now, we’re helping the participants make their own decisions and create their own goals,” said Badella, who’s been working at ARC for more than a decade.
“By building their self-esteem, through paid work, we find the participants’ ability and desire to become more integrated into society is far greater,” she said.
Governed by parents, self-advocates and committed community members who share the vision of the original founding families of ARC, that all people regardless of their disability will be provided an education, have friends and a full life in the Santa Barbara community, the programs at Alpha Resource Center will continue to evolve, as will its participants.
For those interested in learning more about Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, the community is invited to guided-tours on the second and third Thursdays of every month at its 4501 Cathedral Oaks Road facility. Aside from financial donations, there are many other ways to help extend ARC’s success, including volunteering time and talents, donating saleable goods to Alpha Thrift Stores, and even donating cars, boats and RVs. For more information, call 805.683.2145.