WISH LIST: The Arc of Tri-Cities seeks landscaping help

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldDecember 16, 2013 

arc of tri-cities wish list landscaping

Judy Westsik is executive director of The Arc of Tri-Cities, which could use a hand with their landscaping at 1455 Fowler St. in Richland. After Alec Jeppson of Kennewick raised about $20,000 and spent two years working on the landscaping for his Eagle Scout project, they ran out of gravel. The need is more than just aesthetic, as the building needs a certain amount of green space to meet LEED requirements and could also use help maintaining the landscaping.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

When The Arc of Tri-Cities broke ground on its new home four years ago, the nonprofit was committed to finishing the building despite the depressed economy.

The community stepped up for The Arc and, along with fundraising efforts, helped complete the $3.7 million project.

"It just warmed my heart so that the community knew and the community wanted to invest in the individuals we serve, so I praise them for that," said Judy Westsik, executive director.

The Arc is a national association that focuses on helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to get opportunities in their community and make informed choices.

It was the first time in the Tri-City organization's more than 60 years that it had a facility built to meet its needs.

"Sometimes there are miracles in life, and the building is one of them," Westsik told the Herald.

But three years after opening the larger Richland building, a section of landscaping has yet to be finished.

The Arc site had to do extensive landscaping to qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Westsik said to meet green standards, they were required to have a certain balance outside of concrete to ornamental features and planted trees and shrubs. But part of the challenge is to keep that up.

Boy Scout Alec Jeppson got people together as part of his Eagle Scout project to put in about 100 plants and set basalt stone around most of the building. Westsik said the work he did was amazing, and he's recognized with a tile in the building.

However, there is one little corner that didn't get done. Topping The Arc's holiday wish list is 9 cubic yards of 2-inch black basalt landscaping stone to finish it.

To keep up the yard at 1455 Fowler St., the organization also needs new or gently used landscaping tools for maintenance of trees and bushes, and for mowing and pruning. It also would be handy to have leather gloves in sizes medium, large and extra large.

The Arc serves more than 2,000 individuals -- from infancy through adulthood -- in Benton and Franklin counties. That is about 2 percent of the population in the Tri-Cities, which Westsik said is higher than the typical 1.6 percent in other communities.

"And there are people out there that we're not serving," she said. "People just keep their loved one at home with them. It's not the best for both of them, but that's what they do."

The organization offers resources and support for the individuals and their families, respite care to give loved ones a break during the day, and recreational activities like summer camps, the Buddy Club, dances and other get-togethers.

There also is the Very Important People, or VIP Club, for clients who are 21 and older, have graduated from high school and have limited employment or day programming. Last year the program expanded to 40 people a day, who can spend one day a week doing in-house activities and another day get out in the community.

Most of it has a cost attached, but it depends on the services and what the client or family can afford.

Westsik said the organization is even more important to the community now because they're seeing the first generation of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are outliving their parents. That's because of "the medical technology and awareness of what to do," she said.

"The Arc is about inclusion and connecting people and, even though the individuals learn a lot in the services that we provide, it's an education to the community to embrace the people," Westsik said. "That's what we'd really like to see."

The nonprofit's wish list also includes: a 100-foot extension cord and reel; an 18-volt cordless drill; and Command brand adhesive wall hooks that can hold 15 pounds.

The adult day programs need supplies for art projects like 25 unused artist canvases, brushes and acrylic paints of assorted colors.

Westsik said cash donations to The Arc always are appreciated and make a difference in providing programs and services for participants.

For more information or to contact The Arc of Tri-Cities, go to www.arcoftricities.com or call 783-1131.

w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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