Pam McGregor is the executive director of The Arc of Greater Williamsburg. The chapter has helped adults with intellectual disabilities since 1976. McGregor first served in the role from 2006-2011. She said she missed running the nonprofit organization and returned in 2015. She notes the name is no longer an acronym but means “arcing over people with disabilities.”
What do you want people to know about The Arc?
Our tagline is when the school bus stops coming we step in. Students with developmental and intellectual disabilities can stay in school until they are 22. When they age out, we are an alternative to them just sitting at home. Our programs include a day program, arts and culture trips, fitness classes and in many cases employment. We serve 250 families who have someone with a development disability. They are people with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, irreparable brain injuries and autism spectrum disorder. We also serve as an advocate for them.
How do you clients benefit with your programs?
A person with a disability can gain literacy skills that are about on a third-grade level. They need to continue that education and reinforce those skills in order not to lose it. This is so they can read a menu and signs to keep them safe. If it weren’t for our programs, many would be just sitting at home all day, just watching TV.
What do you want the public to know about your clients?
They are the nicest people you will ever meet. They are not prejudiced. If you take time to have a conversation with them and respect them, you have made a friend for life. Their abilities far outweigh their disabilities. For example, we have one young man who can draw like Michelangelo. During the annual An Occasion for the Arts, our clients earned five Honorable Mention awards for their art displayed in the community building.
How do they make good employees?
Any business, such as a grocery store, that employs one of our clients says they are a tremendous asset. They need guidance to be successful. But overall, they are productive, always on time, in a uniform they are proud to wear. They are so determined with a drive to please.
What community support do you receive?
Our biggest fundraiser is our 5k for The Arc at Williamsburg Landing in October. The staff and residents really welcome us. Last year, nearly 300 runners came and we raised $43,000. The Williamsburg Kiwanis Club has a shrimp feast every year which raises money for us. The College of William and Mary has been a backbone of support for us with the sororities and fraternities hosting a carnival. They provide interns and volunteers. The organization Pi Beta Phi is a big help wih tutoring in our literacy program called Life Long Learning. Ironbound Gym also is planning a Zumba-thon to raise money for us.