ABLE plans to expandHappy chattering filled the ABLE day activities center in Dickinson Wednesday afternoon as clients made holiday decorations and centerpieces. If all goes as planned, next fall there will be a larger center to gather in.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
Happy chattering filled the ABLE day activities center in Dickinson Wednesday afternoon as clients made holiday decorations and centerpieces.
If all goes as planned, next fall there will be a larger center to gather in.
After a number of years of planning, officials with ABLE say they are getting ready to build an approximate $1.3 million day center in Dickinson with a tentative completion date of October.
ABLE (Acquiring the Basics of Living and Employment) is a non-profit organization that provides services for disabled people.
“The kind of service we provide isn’t always understood,” ABLE Board President Lyle Brudvig said. “It is a needed part of society, in every society.”
The organization leases buildings from The Arc of Dickinson, but ABLE purchased land in the State’s Addition in west Dickinson in August for a new facility, said Mary Anderson, ABLE executive director.
“We pretty much outgrew this space when we moved in here 25 years ago,” she said.
The new facility will house administrative offices and day activity facilities. Anderson said contractors are working on the blueprints.
“We’re taking a lot of care in seeing what those will look like,” Anderson said. “Those will probably last us another 25 to 50 years. We want them to meet people’s needs and be a quality place for them, and we want the community to get around that (idea).”
ABLE purchased two lots in August valued at $20,000 apiece, according to the Stark County Auditor’s office. Though the deeds list the lots as being sold for $1 each, Anderson said the organization did not pay that amount and declined to say how much it did pay.
Anderson said the organization plans to raise funds in 2010 with a goal of $3 million to pay for the project and possibly a new group home.
“When we say that amount, we mean through grants, through people that are willing to support us through community sorts of events,” Anderson said.
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has already granted the organization $40,000.
Connie Schorsch, executive director of The Arc of Dickinson, said she doesn’t foresee problems with a disruption of services.
“I think they have their bases covered and we are going to continue to work with them and hopefully everything will go smooth,” Schorsch said.
Anderson said the organization is renting month-to-month from The Arc of Dickinson until its new facility opens.
“We’re a private, non-profit that is separate from The Arc,” Anderson said. “They (The Arc) have been very, very helpful in this transition phase. On their end, there’s not a real sense of urgency.”
Families of clients have been supportive, she added.
Schorsch said it is unclear what will happen to the buildings ABLE now occupies once they move.
“We have not developed any plans yet because we’re waiting to see when that actually happens for ABLE,” Schorsch said.
How it’s funded
Anderson said funding for the organization comes through state and federal dollars. Its upcoming budget is projected to be about $5.8 million, she said, with about 85 percent of the money going to about 140 employees.
“The healthier the state is, the less the federal contribution,” Anderson said. “North Dakota is pretty healthy now, so the federal contribution is less than when I first started. It used to be a 70/30 percent match, 70 percent federal, 30 percent state. We don’t know what the match is now, but I’m pretty sure it’s down in the 60s.”
Funds go to specific purposes, Anderson said.
“Our goal is to find ways to have unrestricted monies because then you can enhance and you can do better things for people,” she said. “But it’s a very, very restricted budget typically.”
Occasionally, Anderson said clients pay for ABLE’s services if they have the resources.
Anderson said the organization hopes to rebuild the group homes to make them more efficient.
No major steps such as a contractor, land purchases or architect selection have been made, she added.
The history of ABLE
In 1980, the Association of Retarded Citizens of North Dakota filed a class action suit against North Dakota, declaring that the state’s method of providing care for people with mental retardation violated their constitutional rights. The trial began in 1982, according to ABLE’s Web site.
In 1984, Judge Bruce Van Sickle’s order was upheld in favor of The Arc of North Dakota, which established constitutional rights and enabled the development of community-based services.
The Arc of Dickinson and The Arc, Little Missouri, responded to the court order by securing funds to build eight group homes and a day activity building. These were built in Dickinson, Bowman and Hettinger. Program operations were then turned over to a regional board, which was named ABLE, Inc.
ABLE was incorporated in 1984, said Mary Anderson, ABLE executive director.
“We manage the day-to-day operations for supporting people,” she said.
ABLE supports about 100 people through day support, vocational programs, group home and independent living options, health and wellness and social interactions.
The organization leases about six buildings, Anderson said.
“It’s been a nice balance, it seems like if there is any opening then there is someone who needs an opening,” Anderson said. “It’s been a nice comfortable transition over the years.
“People have worried about a waiting list and we have really not found that there is a waiting list.”
ABLE provides support for people with disabilities, ranging from physical to intellectual, Anderson said.
“I think our youngest person is probably 18 and our oldest person, I think she’s 87,” she said.