A lot has changed since 1953, when PARC was founded, but one thing has remained the same and that is PARC’s mission, to provide opportunities for children & adults with developmental disabilities to exercise their independence and experience life to the fullest. What started as one parent’s desire for a better future for their child, quickly turned into a large-scale vision of a community where all individuals live with dignity and are treated with respect. For the past 67 years, PARC has worked tirelessly to make this mission and vision a reality in our community.
PARC serves more than 800 Pinellas County residents (almost 600 in 2020 due to COVID-19-related factors) with intellectual and developmental disabilities annually through its vast array of service offerings. Our Discovery Learning Center, Family Focus and Respite programs provide vital services to children and their families. For adults, PARC’s Life Skills Development programs offer a wide variety of meaningful daytime activities. Our Supported Employment program offers assistance to adults in the areas of career exploration, job development, placement. PARC provides residence to 94 children and adults throughout our four residential sites. Our Supported Living program offers ongoing supports and services needed for those who wish to live independently in the community. And our agency fleet of more than 40 vehicles is available to meet the numerous transportation needs of our clients.
There’s truly no better way to learn about PARC than through the stories of our own family members. Below are a few stories that will give you a glimpse into the lives of those connected to PARC.
Amy – DLC
It’s been 10 years since Amy walked her first child into the Discovery Learning Center (DLC), a preschool specializing in the needs of children experiencing developmental and intellectual disabilities. Amy’s children all came to her through the foster system—all with developmental delays.
“It has been a truly amazing place of enrichment for so many of the children that have come through my home as a foster and adoptive mom,” Amy says. “It has been a real partnership in raising all my children and I can honestly say I could not have done it without them.”
Taylor – Longtime Resident
Taylor has a disorder called Angelman Syndrome—a genetic disorder that significantly affects her ability to move and communicate—and has been living at PARC since she was six years old.
“PARC and the entire staff are an absolute godsend,” Michael says of his almost two decades of experience with PARC. “The love and care our daughter receives every day is above and beyond what we could have ever hoped for. Because of PARC, Taylor’s life is full of love, joy, and opportunities that she may not have otherwise experienced.”
Elijah – Supported Employment
Elijah began with PARC as a student receiving extended transition services through Pinellas County Schools. He joined PARC’s program and interned with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for the remaining eight-months of his extended transition program. Paired with a PARC Job Coach, Elijah worked successfully through three separate internships during an eight-month period. At the conclusion of his PARC program, All Children’s Hospital made the decision to hire Elijah in their Child Life Department. This employment position provided Elijah the independence he hoped and dreamed about, and his family spent a lot of time praying about. Elijah was able to advance his independence by moving into his own apartment with a roommate as he advanced his career with All Children’s Hospital. Currently, Elijah is working with a home mortgage lender to become a first-time homebuyer.
Lisa – Life Skills Development Program and Resident
Lisa is a longtime participant in PARC’s Adult Day Training program, she recently became a resident at PARC. This is what her sister has to say about their experience: “We have always been so grateful to the team at PARC for fostering the possibilities in Lisa, they know that the human spirit is one of ability, perseverance, independence and value. Lisa has thrived at PARC because she has had a dedicated and loving support system that kept her happiness, safety and development as a key priority.”
With all of the changes and fabulous things that have happened over the years with PARC, one thing remains the same. We serve individuals with developmental disabilities and we do it with passion and love. The commitment of our staff and our community has helped to make PARC what it is today. We could not do any of these things without all of your help. Visiting PARC is something that is a must do and has been hampered by this year of COVID-19. While it has been a struggle, we are strong, and we are ready for you to visit anytime you would like. It would be my privilege to bring any of you on a tour here to see the amazing clients we work with and the wonderful things that we all do.
With gratitude and love,
Chief Advancement Officer