New digs for intellectually/developmentally disabled in Southside

New digs for intellectually/developmentally disabled in Southside
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and Ben Davis cut the ribbon during the grand opening of The Arc Jacksonville Village May 18. Looking on are Village resident Kristie Gabel; Blake Wilson, EverBank CEO and president; Senator Aaron Bean and Jim Whittaker, The Arc Village CEO and president; front: Village residents Destiny Carter and Michael Williams.

Thanks to The Arc Jacksonville, intellectually and developmentally disabled adults now have a place to call their own. With much fanfare and many tearful moments, The Arc Jacksonville Village, a $22 million private community, held its grand opening and ribbon cutting in Southside May 18.

Built on 17 of 22 acres leased to The Arc Jacksonville for 99 years, the Village comprises 96 one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as a clubhouse with pool, cafeteria and multipurpose rooms and will house 120 residents.

New digs for intellectually/developmentally disabled in Southside

Clare Harris, cousin of Village resident Tommy Sawyer, join Tommy’s mother, Martha Sawyer, a Miramar resident at the grand opening of The Arc Jacksonville Village May 18.

The Arc Jacksonville Village is the realization of a “dream 10 years in the making,” said The Arc Jacksonville President/CEO Jim Whittaker in his opening remarks. In addition to Whittaker, several other speakers took the podium at the opening ceremony, including Florida Senator Aaron Bean, Audrey Moran of Riverside, chair of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president at Baptist Health, Martha Sawyer of Miramar, whose son, Tommy, is a Village resident, as well as Village resident Destiny Carter and her mother, Felicia.

Ben Davis of Avondale, a major donor, unveiled the name of the new Mary Lou Davis Community Center, a clubhouse named for his deceased mother. Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles announced a gift of $40,000 from his foundation to The Arc Jacksonville and shared ribbon-cutting duties with Davis.

Three model apartments decorated by San Marco interior designer R. Ward Lariscy were also on display during the grand opening.

A “high-end” designer who doesn’t usually shop in consignment and lower-end department stores, Lariscy presented three beautifully decorated model apartments on a scant $8,000 budget. He also decorated the Village’s main clubhouse building, without the same strict budget constraints.

“I usually do high-end decorating. I’m not used to shopping in budget stores,” Lariscy said. “I did use some Ikea pieces, and some from outlet stores and online resources,” he said, noting he learned the hard way that when he spotted something he liked in a consignment store, he’d better purchase it immediately or it would be gone if he returned after taking measurements or thinking it over. “You need to buy it when you find it,” he said.

New digs for intellectually/developmentally disabled in Southside

San Marco’s Molly Curry, wife of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, joins Erin Nowikowski and her mother Elise, also of San Marco, at the grand opening of The Arc Jacksonville Village on Kirbo Lane May 18. Erin is a resident of the Village while her mother is a board member of The Arc Jacksonville.

The Arc Jacksonville Village is touted as the first of its kind in the United States. It combines affordable, independent living with an on-site support staff and 24-hour security. The format of The Village encourages its residents to interact with each other and offers them the chance to take advantage of recreational facilities, churches, and employment in the surrounding neighborhood. Including benefits, earned and income from investments, each resident’s earnings cannot exceed $26,640. Rent on the apartments ranges from $190 to $525 per month, although the estimated cost of expenses may be as high as $1,244 per month once utilities, food and personal expenses are factored in.

During his opening remarks, Whittaker said The Arc Jacksonville is considering building a new YMCA on the remaining acreage of their property so the residents, as well as the public, can more easily take advantage of its programs.

Taking up residence in the new facilities from San Marco will be Erin Nowikowski, Collin Hazelip, Betsy Zahn and Tommy Sawyer. Also living in the Village will be Maura Rossi of Avondale.

The 32-acre property had originally been donated to the state on the condition that it benefit people with disabilities. Construction, staffing and other expenses have been financed by a state grants, tax credits and a capital campaign, which has raised $ 6 million to date.

“We’ve all been to ribbon-cuttings,” said Bean in his remarks. “This ribbon cutting is different. You will get goose-bumps. It’s a flood of hope and opportunities for a population that hasn’t felt hope and opportunities like this before.”


By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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