The Arc of Dickinson names directorBoxes of donated clothing piled up in Dickinson’s Arc Aid Thrift Store when an unpacking party was called Thursday evening. “Every time we get overwhelmed with donations, we’ll have an unpacking party,” said Pam Kolling, who was named The Arc of Dickinson executive director in December. “We’ll have pizza and go to work unpacking all kinds of things.”
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Boxes of donated clothing piled up in Dickinson’s Arc Aid Thrift Store when an unpacking party was called Thursday evening.
“Every time we get overwhelmed with donations, we’ll have an unpacking party,” said Pam Kolling, who was named The Arc of Dickinson executive director in December. “We’ll have pizza and go to work unpacking all kinds of things.”
The Arc promotes and protects the rights of people with intellectual and development disabilities and actively supports their inclusion in the community, Kolling said.
In her position, she oversees the thrift store, four intermediate care facilities and Southview Housing — an independent supported living arrangement.
Kolling doesn’t hesitate to pitch in with the projects.
“We have fun — our volunteers are a very close-knit group,” she said.
“She covers everything very well — she works well with everybody,” board member Faye Schwartzmann said.
Thrift store manager Ann Perfett described Kolling as a down-to-earth supervisor.
“She works great with the staff,” she said. “She’s easy to work with and not judgmental.”
Kolling has fostered a lifelong empathy of people with disabilities. Her brother, Keith, was born with a developmental disability. Then she gave birth to premature triplets in 1988 — Luke and Tess died days later, but Josette survived with cerebral palsy.
“I accepted my brother as a brother, but once I had a daughter who had a disability, that hit home,” she said.
Standing over her crib in the hospital, Kolling said, “I promised if she survived, I’d give her the best life possible.”
Kolling recently purchased a home that has been converted into an independent supported living arrangement.
“Today, my daughter and two of her friends live there and she loves it,” Kolling said.
Kolling’s children also have benefitted from having Josette in her lives. Tara is a physical therapist, Kelsey works for Easter Seals and Lee works in the oil field.
Kolling is a graduate of Dickinson State University. Her career as an advocate for people with disabilities began as program coordinator for ABLE.
“I created life plans for individuals to help them fulfill their hopes and dreams,” she said.
Kolling said The Arc position is an opportunity to reach more people.
The thrift store recycles donated clothing, selling it back to the public at a reduced price. More than 40 volunteers sort, label and sell the merchandise, she said.
The profits are used for transportation, housing and education of its clients. The Arc has a membership of approximately 100.
“We would like to include the whole southwest,” Kolling said. “Part of our vision is to reach out south and west.”
The thrift store also needs additional volunteers to handle the volume of clothing and household items.
“We invite you to come in and check it out,” she said.
The store is at 140 Second St. W.