HARRISONBURG — The Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County is expanding its services to bring relief for families and caregivers of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Amanda Brothers, 48, started in mid-April as the agency’s first director of resource and respite services.
She’ll oversee a “one-stop shop” resource center at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center and is developing a volunteer list to offer respite care, which will give parents and other caregivers a break when they need it.
The Arc is the area’s largest community-based organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It operates out of the Simms Center, where its signature program, the Op Shop, is housed.
The Op Shop teaches life and social skills, taking clients on field trips and giving them an opportunity to make crafts that they can sell.
Arc Executive Director Shea Godwin said a needs-assessment survey conducted last year revealed two “overwhelming” needs: a resource center and respite services.
The former will feature brochures and books and access to a point-person — Brothers — to outline what services and grants are available in the community.
Brothers scheduled a community forum for 6 to 8 p.m. July 10 at the Simms Center to provide information and receive feedback.
The Arc is also working to obtain state licensure to provide respite care, which will lead to an on-call list of trained volunteers available to give caregivers some time off.
Brothers most recently worked as an intellectual disability case manager for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board. In that role, she said she knew the need existed for respite services.
“Nobody’s there to give them that free time to do what it is they need to do for themselves,” Brothers said of caregivers.
The Arc plans to offer monthly “parents night out” events, too, in which children can come to the Simms Center for activities.
Godwin said Brothers is already making a difference for people with disabilities in the area.
“She has a lot of experience and knowledge,” she said, “and she is a go-getter.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org