The Arc of Pearl River County: Local chapter hosts social activities
Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 14, 2015
“The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.” – The Arc Mississippi’s mission statement.
Ten-years ago, Susette Morrow joined the Arc of Pearl River County, because she wanted to involve her son in social activities.
Morrow’s 27-year-old son, Bradley, was born with intellectual disabilities.
“One of my son’s teachers told me that I had to be an advocate for my son and attend many seminars and conferences to learn as much as I could about his rights,” Morrow said. “That’s what I do, I take an active role in the disability field.”
The Arc of Pearl River County is a non-profit organization, which is the local chapter of The Arc Mississippi.
According to Arc literature, the organization is the largest national community-based advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Arc aids in education, housing, employment and health care. Morrow is president of the Pearl River County chapter, which currently has about 70 volunteers and six officers.
“We host themed dances throughout the year,” Morrow said. “Our most recent event was bingo night, which the Knights of Columbus Council 6872 hosted. We also have craft day at the library.”
Morrow said the Arc is planning to host an event at least once a month or every other month.
Many of the Arc’s participants are residents in the local assisted living facilities including Bridgeway, Brandi’s Hope and Millcreek. However, the group is open to anyone in the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Some of the group’s funding comes from the county and membership dues, which are $20 per family, Morrow said. The social events provide a great opportunity for community members or business owners to sponsor a dance or other activity.
Not only does the Arc provide a bevy of social celebrations, they also provide information and referral services, advocate for rights as needed and provides assistance with fixing medical equipment on a case by case basis, Morrow said.
Ivaly Barnes is a two-time winner of the Arc sponsored Bow and Beauty pageant.
She attends Millcreek every day except Monday. She retired from Picayune’s Dockside Seafood Restaurant 6-years ago. She is an original member of the Arc of Pearl River County, which was created in the 1970s.
“I’ve been participating in pageants for so long that I never thought it possible that I would win,” Barnes said. “I like to dress up and perform music by Elvis and Tina Turner. I like the Arc and I think I’m going to do one more pageant and sing the song, ‘ Too Close to the Mirror.’ I always give the best I can, including my best smile.”
Robbie Jones is a resident at Bridgeway Apartments in Picayune. He also likes to participate in pageants.
“I sing songs by Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash,” Jones said. “The Arc is a very good group because I get to attend dances with my girlfriend, Stephanie. I’ve been a member of Arc for about nine years and it’s fun.”
Steve Childs is a member of Brandi’s Hope and when he’s not manning the cookie cart and giving out directions in the Pearl River County Governmental Offices in Picayune, he attends Arc sponsored dances and parties.
“I have a good time and see a lot of my friends there,” Childs said. “I also take dance classes and learn how to dance to Christian and country music.”
Learn more about The Arc of Pearl River County through Facebook at The Arc of Pearl River County.
For more information about The Arc Mississippi, visit the website at www.arcms.org.