By Priscilla Rodriguez and Alexandra Fradelizio | m/Oppenheim.Org Writer
Since 1972, thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across Northern Kentucky and greater Cincinnati have improved their lives and learned to thrive with the help of the nonprofit, The Point/Arc.
The organization was first established when now President and Founder, Judi Gerding, and a few others came together to form a group that would help to fill the gaps where programs and assistance weren’t available for persons with disabilities.
For Gerding, the movement was a personal one. Her son, Steve, was diagnosed with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome at a very young age, and she wanted to create a world that offered him opportunities and the chance at a better life.
At the time, there weren’t many opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, so it was up to the community at large to create those resources.
Today, she says, “the situation is better than it was several years ago, but it still has a long way to go.”
Over nearly the past 50 years, the organization has evolved to offer programs and support in education, housing, employment, and social skills, all of which are still growing and reaching new people every year. The programs essentially help to teach, train, encourage, and empower individuals to understand themselves and realize their full potential. They learn important life skills, like decision-making, so they can live more independent and fulfilling lives.
Though the organization is highly focused on providing services to those who could benefit from them, The Point/Arc also emphasizes the importance of celebrating people’s differences and various abilities around the world. The organization has developed projects and social enterprises that today serve more than 1,400 adults and children every year. But there are still many people who could benefit from The Point/Arc’s services.
Though many individuals in the community do have parents or guardians that help pave a path for them in their lives, Gerding says that many still lack support.
“They’re in this on their own,” she says, “and it’s a need, and it’s not going to become any less [important].”
Gerding passionately works alongside her team to find more ways to provide support for individuals living with disabilities, and though they have faced many obstacles along the way, both financial and logistical, they are still pushing for a better world where everyone can continue to grow and learn.
“It’s a team effort – there is no one individual who is responsible for what is at work here,” she says.
“You just got to have determination and know that you are helping those who seek so little… and many of us have been so blessed to give.”