Arc of the Emerald Coast
Words by Ashley Hurst
At the Arc of the Emerald Coast, our mission is “To Provide a path from disability to capability”. We use words like “varying abilities” and we celebrate milestones such as learning to cook for one’s self, learning money, getting a job, and active citizenship. Our clients are our shining stars, and are often with us for life, becoming family. Nowhere is this more true than with Chris, and we would love to share his story.
Chris began services with us here at the Arc of the Emerald Coast while in high school in 1995. ESE students (exceptional students) are in high school until from age 14 until 22. Chris came to us to utilize our supported employment service, looking for work as he was approaching graduation. At that time, Chris lived at home, with his parents.
When Chris’s father passed away in 2002, his family went into crisis and Chris started receiving supported living services in addition to supported employment from the Arc of the Emerald Coast. He moved into his own home with 2 roommates and had a Supported Living Coach , SL Coach Bear McKay, who is also still with us as well.
Chris has been determined to gain his independence since day one, and has worked so very hard to achieve it. He has maintained employment within our community continuously since 1995, and can boast excellent work references and performance. One of his very first goals was to obtain his own license, rather than a state issued ID. In 2017, Chris completed driver’s education and received that license! He then set his goal to purchase his own vehicle, and immediately started to save his money with the goal of purchasing a truck. This May, 2019, he achieved his dream and bought a Ford Ranger pickup, filling out the paperwork on his own, with his longtime friend Coach Bear looking on, and the staff here at the Arc EC clapping and shedding tears of joy. He is not finished either. His new goal is to own his own home in Valparaiso and leave supported living. We have no doubts Chris will continue to achieve his dreams.