February 19, 2019 05:45 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- It's an organization that has impacted the lives of thousands of people with developmental disabilities.
But its 67th year brings something new.
"The community needs to include them; they are individuals, they are citizens," said John Gray. "You know it makes them whole as well, so it's a win-win situation situation for the community and for them."
It's been part of the community for generations, but ARC has a new name: LIFE Mower County.
LIFE is an acronym, short for learning, inclusion, fun and empowerment.
"We want to empower people with disabilities," said Dawn Helgeson, executive director. "We want to give them choices and we want them to learn and grow and be a part of the community and so that's really why we changed it."
The name change came about when the state organization pushed for a merger of all 12 ARC chapters in Minnesota, and the local group chose to remain independent.
"The consumers, our intellectually and developmentally disabled consumers, are the lifeblood of this organization and we need to be there for them," said Gray, who is a board member.
"We advocate for them. That's the main part of our organization and we stand up for their rights and we talk to legislators, we do recreation, we do all kinds of a 4-H club, all kinds of things," said Helgeson.
There are currently about 150 members of all ages who attend the group's activities.
"We want people to live and go out in the community and have their own apartments and have a job, a good-paying job," she said. "And people with disabilities, they need that chance to empower themselves to learn and grow and that's what we're here for."