Arc of Wabash County began in 1954 when a group of parents petitioned the Wabash public school system for permission to allow their children with intellectual disabilities to attend. That request was denied and the parents were advised to keep their “poor, afflicted” children at home to save everyone from stress and embarrassment.
This incredible group of parents and other sympathetic community members were able to procure the resources they needed to begin their own school. A home on Steinman Street was donated, a teacher was hired and supplies purchased and thus began the School of Hope.
The school was funded by these parents, who raised funds by making quilts, selling baked goods, and taking in laundry. Area churches also donated money and supplies to help offset the expenses.
When the oldest of the children reached young adulthood, Workshop Enterprises was created to provide them with gainful employment. Area businesses would outsource some of their easier tasks to the Workshop. The first Workshop Enterprises was located in a Quonset hut on Manchester Avenue across from what used to be the County Farm. Later it moved to Canal Street where it joined with an association with the ARC movement. In the late eighties, Arc moved to its current location on South Miami Street and became Arc of Wabash County, Inc., dropping the acronym that included outdated wordage (Association of Retarded Citizens.)
The workshop is now called Pre-vocational Industrial Services and operates multiple businesses including industrial parts assembly, document shredding, and cardboard recycling and bundling. Pre-Vocational Industrial Services exists to teach and train participants in transferable work skills, soft skills, social skills, and personal goals. Many of Arc’s participants use the skills they learn in the Pre-Vocational Workshop to gain community employment. Arc of Wabash employs a Community Employment Specialist who works closely with Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation in finding jobs for our qualified participants and giving them support to ensure success for the participant and customer satisfaction for the employer.
Arc of Wabash County has grown since its “humble” beginnings to encompass a myriad of programs and services for adults, young adults, and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and a first class staff of qualified professionals.