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What is the Arc?

The history of The Arc of Blair County is a rich and emotional journey to create awareness of every person’s ability. The Arc of Blair County does not have any acronym in its name and uses a lowercase r an c  in the word Arc anytime the name of the agency is used. It is pronounced Arc, as in the shape or the boat that Noah built.

The National Arc of the United States was founded in 1950 by a small group of parents and other concerned individuals as a grassroots effort. At that time, little was known about developmental disabilities or its causes, and there were virtually no programs and activities in communities to assist in the development and care of children and adults with developmental disabilities and to help support families. Over the following years, state and local chapters of the national organization were developed. Together with our network of members and affiliated chapters, we improve systems of supports and services, connect families, inspire communities and influence public policy.

In the early days The Arc worked to change the public perception of individuals who were diagnosed with a developmental disability. Efforts were made to advocate for individuals to move into the community and to educate families and the public regarding the abilities of individuals.  The Arc also worked to procure services for children and adults who were denied day care, preschool, education and work programs. The Arc of Blair County continues to advocate for people with developmental disabilities to fully participate in social, educational, employment and community activities

The Arc of Blair County was founded in 1954 by a group of parents interested in offering every opportunity for their children to learn and grow within the community where they resided. The original name of the organization was the Association for Retarded Citizens. That name was changed years ago to reflect the The Arc of Blair County’s desire to reflect people first language and a self-determination philosophy. There is no acronym in the name Arc, nor any capitalization of the letters.

The Arc of Blair County serves all individuals, birth through life, with any form of delay in development including AD/HD, speech delays, Autism, Bi-polar, Epilepsy, reading delays, Down syndrome, behavioral concerns, Cerebral Palsy, or other developmental disabilities.

The Arc of Blair County office is located at 431 Jackson Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania.  Portions of the building at The Arc are named in memory of people who made considerable contribution to the advancement of people with disabilities including Becky Sheetz. Becky was the pioneer who envisioned a building for individuals with developmental disabilities to form friendships, enjoy leisure activities and become a part of the community. Along with a group of dedicated people, The Becky Sheetz Recreation Building was opened in 1986. The building is not owned by the Sheetz Corporation but is named in memory of a remarkable woman similar to wings of hospital. The game room is named in memory of Vicky Kattouf, a long-time Arc member who championed an everyday living attitude for people with disabilities. The grounds surrounding The Arc of Blair County have been placed in memory and honor of the women and men who have sacrificed personal time and dedicated their lives towards the advancement of individuals who have disabilities. The Arc of Blair County is proud to offer the many services offered without the support of government funding to operate. The Arc of Blair County is able exist through fundraisers, community support and grants.

How is The Arc supported?
The Arc of Blair County is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation and derives its support from fundraisers, donations and membership fees. Special projects may be supported by a grant. The Arc of Blair County does not receive any federal, state or county dollars to support its many programs and services. Most programs and all of the advocacy is offered at no cost. The Arc of Blair County is proud to remain true to its grass roots beginnings by continuing to approach legislators for change for people who have a disability without accepting funding from the government. To make a donation or to become a member of  The Arc of Blair County, e-mail: mail@thearcblair.org

How can I get more information about The Arc?
Current, up-to-date information about The Arc of Blair County and its activities is available on this site and is updated frequently.  You will find the monthly newsletter Arc Action and an ongoing schedule of events in the Calendar of Events. Additional information may be obtained by contacting The Arc at  814-946-1011 or e-mail:

How can I become involved in the Arc?
The Arc of Blair County needs volunteers to assist with advocacy efforts, both through public policy efforts and through individual advocacy efforts, to offer support during programs, and to assist with fundraisers.


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