Richard Heiny Published 7:00 am, Friday, August 25, 2017
To the editor:
I think the Arnold Center is a wonderful Midland institution, and I was very glad to see the recent publicity regarding its 50th anniversary and the good work it has been performing in the community for all those years. However, I think there is a bit of important history of the Center that was not presented. I will add what I know and recollect about the beginning.
The Arnold Center began as the Handicapped Workshop, and was located in the old East End Garage building on South Jefferson. It was initially conceived by George Rapanos and his wife, who supplied all the management and most of the funding for several years. The Dow Chemical Co. was very generous in finding projects that could be done by the Workshop participants. The concept proved popular and quickly outgrew the Rapanos’ funding. They were able to get a little state funding, but were contemplating the shrinking operations. The Midland Kiwanis Club learned of the situation and stepped in with about $12,000 per year funding, which was a big commitment for the club at that time.
Jim Arnold was a member of the Kiwanis Club and grew very interested in the project. When it appeared that no state, federal or any other source of funding was likely to be found adequate to carry on the expanding operations, Jim stepped in with support from the Strosacker Foundation and pretty much assumed all funding for the growing operations. Without the Rapanos’ personal commitment and personal funding, there would be no Arnold Center today.
Midland Daily News
Published Friday, July 28, 2017
Fifty years of joy, exhilaration, hard work and celebration overflowed Wednesday at the Arnold Center. More than 400 people gathered to commemorate the organization that is a leading provider of vocational training and human services to people in various forms of employment.
“It’s a one-stop connection of job creation and coordination of resources to maximize independence and inclusion for individuals. It’s a community of exceptional people delivering quality service,” said emcee Tim Dyste, former Arnold Center board chair and current executive consultant.
The day included a ribbon cutting by the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce. “I’m very excited and proud to be here to say congratulations to all of you and thank you for the wonderful work that you do in our in our community,” said Midland Mayor Maureen Donker, who sits on the Arnold Center board. “Truly all of you make a huge difference. You’ve had 50 years of good work in our community.”
The gathering included previous President Charlie Markey, who was seen smiling, hugging Arnold Center participants and shaking hands of those who held a dear place in his heart.
“It is more of a community space than a work place,” Markey stated in a previous Daily News article. “Many have come to the Arnold Center for years to work and have enjoyed the company of others with similar thoughts and ideas. I am amazed at the level of excitement that is generated by our employees as the staff serve our participants and they in turn develop skills and abilities that external companies see as a valuable resource for their economic projects.”
Even though he’s not scheduled to begin work until Aug. 7, new Arnold Center Executive Director Craig Varterian joined the festivities. Previously, Varterian led Reclaim Detroit; an organization that dismantled old homes in the city, salvaging valuable materials to be used in new homes and businesses. In the process, Reclaim Detroit taught people with barriers useful skills.
The Arnold Center serves about 350 people with disabilities annually, employing about 325 people with disabilities and about 63 staff. The 388 employees make the Arnold Center the eight-largest employer in Midland County. The Arnold Center originally began as the Midland County Rehabilitation Services for the Handicapped, Inc. A group of community leaders opened a new facility in the Circle Area during 1967.
As the Arnold Center continued its growth, the board of directors decided to build its own 15,000-square-foot facility at 400 Wexford Ave., the current site. With support from the Strosacker Foundation, James Arnold spearheaded the drive for a new building. The Dow Chemical Co. and Michigan Bureau of Rehabilitation helped with funding as the new building was dedicated on Dec. 2, 1979 and named the Arnold Center after Arnold.
A 10,000-square-foot addition was added in 1986 along with a contract with the Midland/Gladwin Community Mental Health to provide rehabilitation services in Gladwin County, known as the Gladwin County Industries
Midland Daily News
Published Thursday, July 27, 2017
To the editor:
The article on Saturday, July 22 was so well done and enlightened many to the virtues and purpose of the Arnold Center. As a parent I can tell you how proud and excited my son is to have a pay check and feel he is doing important work. These employees have good reason to be proud of themselves. They live happier lives because of their work and make friends at the Arnold Center.
Thank you for telling their story so well.
Midland Daily News
Published Saturday, July 22, 2017
The year was 1967, and occupying the White House was Lyndon Baines Johnson, a driving force behind civil rights reform in the United States. The same year, Thurgood Marshall became the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
And, in Midland, change was happening with the opening of the Arnold Center, a community rehabilitation organization that has provided services and support to people with disabilities and/or other unique needs.
“It is more of a community space than a work place,” said Charles Markey, former Arnold Center president from 2009-2016. “Many have come to the Arnold Center for years to work and have enjoyed the company of others with similar thoughts and ideas. I am amazed at the level of excitement that is generated by our employees as the staff serve our participants and they in turn develop skills and abilities that external companies see as a valuable resource for their economic projects.”
Now, five decades after it opened, the Arnold Center commemorates the vision of that original group of pioneers who sought a way to assist people with disabilities. On Wednesday, the Arnold Center will host its 50th anniversary celebration at 400 Wexford Ave. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a public board meeting, followed by a luncheon, ribbon cutting and awards ceremony.
“As a result of the work the Arnold Center does, we believe Midland has become a more diverse community,” Arnold Center Vice President Chris Chamberlain stated. “I think most people would agree a truly diverse community is all the richer for the people in it. However, for it to be truly diverse, everyone within the community must be embraced and allowed to contribute to it and bring their experiences.”
The Arnold Center originally began as the Midland County Rehabilitation Services for the Handicapped, Inc. Community leaders George Rapanos, John Rapanos, Lois Entenmann Gaunt, James B. Arnold, Dr. O. H. Hammer, Frank Townsend, Dr. Roy M. Goethe, Ester Savage and others formed an allegiance to see the fulfillment of their vision. That dream became a reality in 1967 when a new facility opened in the Circle Area on South Saginaw Road.
Years later, George Rapanos wrote in his personal journal:
“I have lived in Midland, Michigan most of my life and I still considered it my home. It is always surprising how small a part of life is taken up by meaningful moments. Most of them are over before they start. Living in Midland gave me many of those meaningful moments that I so dearly treasure. My participation in the development of Midland County Rehabilitation Services for the Handicapped of which I was the first president, for a period of four years, and instrumental in the development of the Arnold Center (Midland County Rehabilitation Services for the Handicapped) is what I consider my most rewarding accomplishment.”
The center soon outgrew its South Saginaw Road location and moved to an automotive garage at 626 S. Jefferson Ave., in 1969, which remained home for 10 years.
As the Arnold Center continued its growth, the decision was made to build its own 15,000 square foot facility at 400 Wexford Ave. With support from the Strosacker Foundation, James Arnold spearheaded the drive for a new building. The Dow Chemical Co. and Michigan Bureau of Rehabilitation helped with funding as the new facility was dedicated on Dec. 2, 1979, and named the Arnold Center after Arnold.
A 10,000-square-foot addition was added in 1986 along with a contract with the Midland/Gladwin Community Mental Health to provide rehabilitation services in Gladwin County, which was known as Gladwin County Industries.
“The Arnold Center in both locations is viewed as a hidden treasure,” Markey said. “I have led many individuals and groups on tours of the facilities and discussed our community outreach projects. They marvel at the variety of jobs performed, the skills of our employees, their positive attitudes and the many external companies that purchase our services. This has led to quite a few new opportunities for our team.”
The Arnold Center serves about 350 people with disabilities annually, employing about 325 people with disabilities and about 63 staff. The 388 employees make the Arnold Center the eight-largest employer in Midland County.
“We’re kind of like a hub where people come in and then from here may go to a whole variety of activities,” Chamberlain said. “Our services are customer driven. It’s what interests them and they want out of life.”
For its participants, the Arnold Center offers two programs: Organizational Employment and Community Integration Services. The Organizational Employment program contracts with various employers to do work for them. Community Integration Services allows participants to choose various work activities with contracted employers out in the community.
“The whole idea is to help people integrate within those activities with other people in the community. So, it is not just this segregated group of people with disabilities. But, it’s us being a part of the community,” Chamberlain said. “The Midland community has truly embraced the concept of diversity by valuing the contributions people with disabilities make in the workplace, at volunteer sites and at social and recreational actives and events,” Chamberlain said. One of those participants, Joshua Johnstone, has served seven years at the Arnold Center.
“I completely cherish being here at the Arnold Center,” Johnstone said. “This is a place where I can call home. I’ve made a lot of friends and I get along with people just fine.”
Johnstone is known as a floater, working inside the Arnold Center wherever he needed. In the past, he has also worked at Hemlock Semiconductor.
“The Arnold Center gives everybody a chance to show their work ethic and what they are capable of doing,” he said.
He also serves as head of the Customer Service Council, which meets to work out concerns and improve work productivity.
“One of the reasons he was chosen for the Customer Council is to have an advocate that would truly make this work and give us honest feedback,” Arnold Center Program Director Jennifer Grace said. “Josh is the voice for other people that don’t have a voice. He will bring things to my attention that somebody else witnessed or saw or various ideas.”
Besides Johnstone, other Arnold Center participants work on sorting, labeling, packaging and recycling projects for companies including Cintas, Nexteer, Dow Chemical and CPI Engineering, said Greg Knopp, Arnold Center production manager, in a previous Daily News article. These projects include the 1.5 million steering column pins recycled by Nexteer every year, and the 8,000 shop towels folded and bundled daily for Cintas.
Participants also engage in a host of community services that benefit local businesses and the community at large. Participants cleaned buildings, sanitized products, assembled merchandise, and maintained grounds. They also have given back to the community with more than 2,000 hours in volunteer services including the Midland Recycling Center, Shelterhouse Resale, MidMichigan Medical Center, Community Gardens, the Senior Center Meals on Wheels program and many local outreach projects.
To aid the people it serves, the Arnold Center has developed 32 partnerships with local private and non-profit organizations in the Midland area and 35 partnerships at the Gladwin location. “These are absolutely critical,” Chamberlain said. “Those relationships are essential to us providing the service for the people to participate in.”
Any organization or business that might wish to partner with the Arnold Center may contact either Greg Knopp or Jennifer Grace. For those interested in manufacturing services, Knopp is the contact. Anyone wishing for a small crew to work at their worksite or for volunteer work, Grace should be contacted.
To contact the Arnold Center, call (989) 631-9570; or visit its website: www.arnoldcenter.org
Reader’s view: We need to work together to help others
Midland Daily News
Published 6:00 am, Monday, June 5, 2017
To the editor:
One year ago, I was chosen to be honored as the “Heart of the Community” by United Way of Midland. I am looking back at this award and have pondered. In this past year, I have been disappointed, disillusioned and confused about the way things are going, not in our community, but in our nation. I believe it is right to resist injustice, inequity and dishonesty. We must find compassion and generosity for the people who suffer food insecurity, those who suffer from not having adequate housing, those who suffer joblessness. If this continues, the next generations of our children will grow up with less … food, housing, education and less chances of surviving.
The following are my acceptance remarks from one year ago. “Thank you for this wonderful award. I am truly humbled. Thank you to Jan Lampman, of The Arc of Midland, for the nomination and the judges for thinking I am worthy.
I want to share just a short story: I grew up in Detroit, and our house was next to the neighborhood sandlot ball field. My brothers and I would bring every kid who had a scrape, cut or bruise to our mom and I watched her patch up every kid. She inspired me to be a nurse. When I was 16, and obtained my drivers license, my mom said “Hey, Kath, here is your first job. You will be driving Mrs. Miller to radiation therapy every day this summer.” Thus volunteering became a part of my life.
When my mom and dad moved to Midland at 60 years old, I was working in oncology at Midland Hospital and at Cancer Services. I told my mom “Hey, Mom, here is your first job. Cancer Services needs volunteer drivers to take patients to radiation therapy.” Turn about is fair play! Right? For 18 years, she was a volunteer driver for Cancer Services. Pretty sure volunteering is in our DNA.
You know, the heart is made up of many, many cells. The health and well-being of each cell impacts the next one, so the cells work together, understanding that they need each other for a heart to be healthy.
I am only part of the Heart of the Community, and I am so proud to be included with the other honorees, and all of you here. We are the cells of the heart of Midland — all of us — recognizing the needs and working together to make an impact. I have received so much more than my fair share of good fortune in my life, it is a pleasure to pay it forward.
While I completely support the Food Pantry, Shelterhouse, Open Door and all the great organizations in Midland that do so much for so many. What you may not understand is that the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have all of these needs. Most live in poverty. They need food, shelter — as in affordable — and safe housing, purposeful employment, safety from abuse and from those who might prey on their vulnerability. Everyone has a right for all of these basic human needs to be met.
I am inspired not only by my mother, but my husband, and by my children, especially my daughter to work for people with developmental disabilities. I love collaborating with other organizations like the Arnold Center, Community Mental Health, Disability Network, Creative 360 and others to work toward solutions for the betterment of our community. And sometimes, all that is required is kindness, acceptance and inclusion.
Midland is a small town with a huge heart and that heart is all of us working together. I thank you for this honor and thank you for all that you do to make sure the beat goes on!”
All of us need to connect, collaborate, advocate and build even better things for the next generations, not just for Midland, but for our country and the world. We cannot afford complacency. Thank you, Midland and United Way, for the honor of the last year. I will continue to do my part to make sure the beat goes on.
Volume 21, Issue No. 2, Spring 2017
At one point in the Arnold Center’s history we found ourselves in the precarious position of not being able to purchase workers’ compensation insurance on the open market due to an unusually high experience modification factor. No insurance company wanted our business. As a last resort, our insurance agent helped us obtain insurance through Michigan’s risk pool . . . and simultaneously reprimanded us for having what he called a “less than stellar safety program.”
Our agent’s reprimand, and soaring workers’ compensation cost and injuries, was our wake-up call. We knew we needed an attitude adjustment. We realized we needed to take control of our future and not lay blame on “the system.” To the credit and dedication of an extraordinary MIOSHA consultant and our insurance agent, our team began the process of constructing a safer and healthier Arnold Center. Through the implementation of monthly safety meetings that vested staff in new and innovative safety practices, and with the guidance of our consultants, we became progressively proactive in our commitment to safety.
One strategy that had a remarkably significant impact on our turnaround was the invitation of external auditors to annually scrutinize our facilities and safety practices. These inspectors (Midland/Gladwin Fire Department inspector; insurance company loss control consultant; MIOSHA CET consultant; MARO Safety consultant; and CARF Accreditation Compliance), specializing in various disciplines, provided health- and safety-related recommendations which we dubbed as “action items.” Our safety team meticulously addressed each action item by establishing policies and procedures and taking remedial action as appropriate. This structured, deliberate approach to safety improvement proved to be a very effective way of ensuring we reaped the full reward of our program.
Over a span of just a few years, an interesting phenomenon occurred. Inspector recommendations became fewer and fewer as did the frequency of employee injuries. Our insurance modification factor dropped to well below our industry’s average. Soon self-funded Workers’ Compensation collaboratives were contacting us to join their groups, realizing savings of about $30,000 per year. Also, our MIOSHA CET consultant believed our safety program had progressed to the point where he felt it was one of the best in his district and thus challenged us to work toward the prestigious Michigan SHARP award. We jumped at the challenge and under his tutelage we were awarded the Michigan SHARP award in May 2008. Since 2008 we have not only maintained our compliance at two separate locations, Arnold Center Midland, and Gladwin, but have been encouraged by MIOSHA to up the ante and challenge our team to earn the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) Star Award. Our team says, “bring it on.”