HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Arc of Southeast Mississippi is FOX 23's Kindness in Action recipient of the week.
The Arc is a United Way non-profit organization and has been in Hattiesburg for nearly 20 years. Its devoted to providing community-based services to individuals with mental challenges and their families.
The organization serves more than 1,600 families a month said Director Marlene Boyd.
“Most people think individuals with disabilities are not able to speak, they should not have a voice, that’s where we come in we have to have a voice for them, so that they can speak and advocate what their needs are" Boyd said.
According to the Arc's website:
"Our agency is committed to providing a network of support for families as they face the challenges of caring for a mentally, and often physically, disabled child or adult. We attempt to achieve this goal through our various programs that include: after school care, seasonal social activities (dances, contests, parties, games, etc), Mother's Day Out, Adventures Summer Program, Day at the ARC/Weekend Respite (for medically fragile children), participation in Sunday church services, Adult Male Respite, Adult Female Respite, Rise and Shine, music and art programs, and parent support groups. Through these various services, we are able to offer a wholesome quality of life to our clients and their families; improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of all the individuals involved."
Approximately 10,000 individuals with some form of disability are served at the Arc center each year. Boyd said its services are needed in the Pine Belt.
“There are not a lot of programs out there for individuals with disabilities" said Boyd.
"So we offer activity based programs, they can come here and socialize with friends, they can do fun activities and be part of just the general public.”
In the last several years the Arc has seen a dramatic number of referrals. Assistant Director, Ashlynn Herrin said the organization stands by their mission each and every day.
“We want the parents to know that there are people who truly love and care about their children and that we are devoted to help and improve their quality of life" said Herrin.
The Arc serves clients from the counties of Lamar, Perry, Marion, Green, Jones, Wayne and Stone. Clients range in age from birth until the individual's death.
The scope of disabilities includes: hearing impaired, visually impaired, physically impaired, multi-disabled, mentally disabled, medically fragile and autism.