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April 29, 1994 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-04-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Their Brothers' Keepers

I

Twenty-five years
ago a handful of
parents were
looking fora new
way to help their
children. They
had little money
and no office.
Today, JARC is
one of the city's
most successful
and respected
organizations.

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Cr)

LU

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UJ

CC

LU

t hardly sounded like a
dream job.
The salary was tiny.
The budget was pieced
together from a hand-
ful of small contribu-
tions. The office was a
donated room, atop an
appliance store, with a broken
window frame through which
birds were constantly flying in
and out
Joyce Keller couldn't say no.
"JARC was very small and
just getting started when I was
hired," says Ms. Keller, who for
the past 16 years has served as
executive director of JARC, the
Jewish Association for Resi-
dential Care. "But I took the job
because I felt I could make a dif-
ference."
A great deal has changed
since a group of local parents,
concerned about the future of
their developmentally disabled
children, first banded together
to create JARC.
Today, the organization op-
erates on a $5-million budget,
has more than 6,000 contribu-
tors, 150 employees and 45
board members. It oversees 16
group homes, with the 17th set
to open next month; residents
comprise everyone from the pro-
foundly disabled to those capa-
ble of independent living.
JARC's latest fund-raiser, held
at the Fox Theatre, featured the
Rockettes and raised $1 million.
This year celebrating its 25th
anniversary, JARC is prepar-
ing not only to continue its corn-
mitment to care for the area's
developmentally disabled Jews
— the waiting list is 250 —but
for changing national policies
that are likely to completely al-
ter the way the organization op-
erates.
Ms. Keller is ready for the
challenge.
"By the time JARC cele-
brates our 50th, I think we will

Joyce Keller

really look different," Ms. Keller
says. "Whatever happens, we'll
handle it."

T

he year is 1969. Levi
Eshkol is Israel's prime
minister; Moshe Dayan
is defense minister. Sirhan
Sirhan is convicted of the mur-
der of Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Midnight Cowboy and Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
are tops at the box office and
Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named
Sue" is big on the charts. Neil
Armstrong steps on the moon,
and Wilt "the Stilt" Chamber-
lain is the NBA's rebound
leader.
The word for the develop-
mentally disabled — if they're

"It starts with Joyce Keller.

30

Every client knows her name."

acknowledged at all — is "re-
tarded."
Among the first to join forces
with a new organization that
would be named JARC was
Norman Wachler.
"Back then JARC was a
group of about 10 families, each
of whom had a disabled child,"
Mr. Wachler recalls. "One of the
parents called and asked me to
help raise money — they had
no experience whatsoever fund-
raising — for a group home.
"The parents were afraid that
if they were to die there would
be no place for their child to go
except a state-run institution or
to other care-givers where the
situation would be deplorable."
A longtime fund-raiser for
the Children's Orthogenic
School, Mr. Wachler didn't balk
at the challenge of asking for
money, and for an organization

that was hardly organized at
that.
"I went out," he says, "and I
raised some money."
His pitch: 'There are two rea-
sons to give. One is if you have
a disabled child. The second is
if you don't."
His goal: reaching a broad-
based group. Because the JARC
clients would require sustained
care for any number of years, a
lump sum would be nice, but
not especially effective.
Instead, Mr. Wachler helped
raise an initial $250,000 from a
variety of donors, to be allocat-
ed over a four-year period.
"I contacted all my friends —
everybody who owed me a fa-
vor," Mr. Wachler says. "No one
turned me down."
The next challenge was lo-
cating a home. Actually, find-
ing the facility was not difficult.

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