Douglas’ Association for Retarded Citizens (DARC) held their annual awards ceremony on January 17 at the DARC building.
The event began with Ms. Elizabeth Ames welcoming all those in attendance. An appetizing dinner of barbacoa, macaroni salad and beans and a desert of apple salsa with cinnamon chips was severed and made by the DARC staff.
Dinner was followed by Executive Director Gary Clark updating the audience all the accomplishments and hardships the staff had during 2012.
“Six years ago we received 91 percent of our funding from the federal and state government; we are currently down to 51 percent,” Clark said. “So we are right at half way, the reason we are at half way is because the city took a chance on us, they pay us to be janitors. Raul Montano has put on a carne asada for the last 13 years almost raising almost $8,000 each year.”
Other organizations in Douglas that have helped and supported DARC over the years have been Wal-Mart, Southwest Gas, Wells Fargo, Border Mart, Cochise College and the local merchants.
“There are too many people to mention by individual name. They all have been really supported to our people,” Clark told the audience. “Really what we are looking for is not a hand out but a hand up.”
Some ways the DARC clients help themselves is by helping others. The kitchen crew cooked over 60,000 meals last year. They deliver these meals to seniors in Douglas, Bisbee and Elfrida.
“The meals are not the standard meals on wheels because we get input from the seniors we want to find out what kind of food they really want. We consult the dieticians to make sure the food is health,” Clark added.
The staff also works for Chiricahua Community Health by making first aid packages of over the counter medications, Band-Aids and other medications. Chiricahua Community Health in turn hands those out to the migrant workers in Yuma.
DARC received a donation of 17 acres a few weeks ago. Their plan is to purchase chickens and goats and also to have a vegetable garden. They hope to have their clients with severe disability take on some of the responsibilities of the upcoming projects.
“They’ve had people take care of them most of their lives and they haven’t in turn been able to take care of other things,” the executive director said. “This will give them a sense of satisfaction to be able to help.”
Over the past two years DARC has seen over $125,000 in federal and state funding cuts. Most of this is due to the bad economy. Executive Director Gary Clark feels that they will overcome these hardships with community help.
“Approximately $125,000 being cut from a $1.5 million budget is really a lot of money, but we have made it up and the way we have made it up is through the community,” he said. “We are so proud of Douglas: we are really proud of what we are doing here.”
Awards for employee of the month for the year 2012 were hand out to: January, Juan Carlos Cordova; February, Jeremy Deuel; March, Jesus Sodari; April, Kristy Rodriguez; May Beto Martinez; June, Maria Torres; July, Gypsy Robinson; August, David Elgrid; September, Barbie Oventile; October, Marie James; November, Christian Pereida; December, Tony Escarcega.
The employees were recognized for their hard work, dedication and willingness to learn new skills. All of the employees were very supportive of each other. They all were happy and applauded when their co-workers names were called.
Awards were also given to the following organizations and individuals for their support and dedication over the years: Wells Fargo, Ray Rogers; Wal-Mart, Sergio Gonzalez; Cochise County Supervisor Ann English and the City of Douglas Mayor Danny Ortega Jr.
“Life is good and we are going to go forward with it and really enjoy it,” Clark said. “Thank you for treating our people like your neighbors because we are your neighbors.”
“We, the ones who are challenged, need to be heard. To be seen not as a disability, but as a person who has, and will continue to bloom. To be seen not only as a handicap, but as a well intact human being.”-- Robert M. Hensel.