O.C.A.R.C. IMPACTS — Fun events part of what makes community organization special for Orange

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, November 9, 2022

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As a day center, OCARC provides adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunities to socialize, make friends and learn vocational skills through the associated sign business.

From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., clients participate in social activities like movie days, arts and crafts, dance parties and Holiday celebrations.

One event the adult clients look forward to is the Halloween party. This year, on Oct. 31, members of the community joined OCARC staff and clients for the festivities.

Sandy McCormack, a supervisor at OCARC, said it’s an event that has been organized for years.

“Not all of them dress in costumes, but we encourage them to,” McCormack said. “Every client who attends the event receives a trophy, and the contest winners get trophies. Some dress in scary costumes, and some choose not to, and they all enjoy it.”

Those pictured include John Thomas, director of OCARC Inc., and Gary Stelly. (Courtesy photo)

Grover Roberts III of the Orange Lions Club was on hand to enjoy the festivities and judge the contest. Also, in attendance to judge was Terrie Salter of the Orange City Council and Orange Lions Club.

Along with other guests, both watched clowns, vampires, pirates, Pokémon, soldiers and even a ranch dressing parade through the sign shop to be judged and admired by friends and family.

The three first-place winners were a client dressed as ranch dressing, one dressed as a vampire and one who chose not to be costumed.

OCARC’s vocational training program is their sign and engraving shop. According to McCormack, the sign shop is an important component of OCARC’s programming,

“The sign business prevents us from being totally dependent on the United Way,” she said. “We are a United Way (partner) agency. With the sign shop, we can earn money to help fund the program.”

United Way of Orange County supports its partner agencies through fundraising campaigns. Their current campaign concludes at the end of November, but donations are welcomed throughout the year.

Customers of the sign shop speak highly of the quality of work completed by the engravers.

Grover Roberts III of the Orange Lions Club and Terrie Salter of the Orange City Council, recently served as two of the judges at an OCARC Halloween party. (Courtesy photo)

“I love that shop. I’ve never been disappointed. They made my ministry banner, my stickers for folders and were willing to put my vision on anything without changing anything about it. The environment is fun and always exciting when you go there,” said Ambre Guilliot-Shaver of Orange.

Christie Thompson of Orange has worked alongside OCARC clients in the past.

She also had positive things to say about the quality of work produced: “OCARC is an excellent business with employees whom are talented and eager to please.”

McCormack welcomes individuals, nonprofits, civic groups and school groups to host programs for the clients.

“Lamar will bring dental technician students in and go over dental hygiene,” she said. “They (the clients) all got new toothbrushes. The GOALS chapter here, they come every other week and read and do story time with them and play games. It’s a big hit, the clients really, really look forward to them coming.”

Former OCARC clients have been able to secure employment in the community using the skills they learned during Dayhab. McCormack credits OCARC’s socialization focus as it works effectively with its vocational training program.

OCARC celebrates other holidays with the clients as well. Their Christmas event this year will be held at Robert’s Steakhouse in Orange in December.

OCARC is located in Orange at 905 West Park Avenue. For more information, call 409-886-1363 or email signshop@ocarc.com.

— Written by Shari Hardin