Jeff’s Corner Garden at The Arc Gateway
The Arc Gateway, Inc.
The Arc Gateway was formed in 1954 by a small group of parents who wanted a better life for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. From serving thirteen children in a small one-room schoolhouse, The Arc Gateway has evolved and grown and now serves over 600 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a wide array of programs in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, including education, vocational training and employment. The mission of The Arc Gateway is to provide the best possible life experiences for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc Gateway’s clients represent a broad spectrum of intellectual and physical disabilities. Current clients range in age from birth to more than 80 years old. Included among organization’s more than 600 clients are those with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other conditions. Approximately 50% of The Arc Gateway client population also has secondary disabilities and in many cases the individuals served live below the poverty level. Current programs and services include Pearl Nelson Child Development enter, Program for Adult Learning and Support (PALS), Pollak Training Center and Group Homes.
Jeff’s Corner Garden was originally created as a stand-alone, small scale business, to provide employment for Jeff, a young man with disabilities. The Garden was originally located downtown but was closed due to the lack of ability to supply demanded quantities of produce. IMPACT 100 funds will provide for the reopening of Jeff’s Corner Garden, in its new location at The Arc Gateway, as a hydroponic greenhouse, expanding the existing horticultural education program. Funds will be use to hire a horticultural/nursery manager to provide more in-depth education and hands-on horticultural training, purchase equipment needed for the hydroponic growing system, including installation and necessary adjustment of the system and to purchase a used, refrigerated delivery van, wrapped with promotional signage to recognize IMPACT 100 and advertisers.
The majority of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed, despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work in the community. One aspect of the difficulty in obtaining employment is that students with intellectual and developmental disabilities may not translate skills learned in a classroom setting to work and community settings. Through IMPACT 100 funding, Jeff’s Corner Garden will provide hands-on horticultural education, job training and experiences providing real world skills for clients, translating into jobs and job readiness with increased opportunities for employment at the Garden and elsewhere. With an opportunity to contribute toward self-support through earned wages, clients are not only able to provide for themselves but also contribute to the local economy. In addition, with the Jeff's Corner Garden project as a new "microenterprise" selling to the community, The Arc Gateway will provide an additional healthy local food source. Nutrition Education on-site will be added once crop production is fully underway, providing another community benefit to education as well as health and wellness. Students with disabilities enrolled in The Arc Gateway’s post-secondary program (PALS), working in Jeff’s Corner Garden, will achieve further job readiness since the expansion will also provide career training and internships such as business administration, marketing, retail sales/service, maintenance, delivery driving and auto detailing.