The Arc celebrates 60 years with launch of renovation campaign

It was 14 years ago when the Herboldsheimers — Chuck, Nancy and their son, Brian — first moved from Baltimore County to Carroll. Brian, now 35, has intellectual disabilities and was struggling in the day program he was attending in Baltimore County.

The family interviewed at several similar programs in Carroll before settling on The Arc of Carroll County. Within a month, everything had changed.


"They said, 'We got Brian's paperwork, and we were expecting an entirely different person than the one that showed up.' They were expecting a problem, and Brian wasn't," Chuck said. "The fact was, it wasn't that Brian was different; it was The Arc that was different."

At an open house event at The Arc on Thursday evening, the organization celebrated its 60th year of assisting people with intellectual disabilities with commendations from the offices of Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, as well as Gov. Larry Hogan.

But the event was about more than celebrating good work; it was also the announcement of a plan for a long overdue renovation to The Arc's current facility on Kriders Church Road in Westminster and a public launch of a capital campaign to fund it. Built in 1986, and seeing only small, room-by-room and ad-hoc improvements since that time, the building has become a limitation to the good work the staff have done, according to Executive Director Don Rowe.

"Our staff is amazing. They have been very creative in trying to get this building to work, to meet the needs for folks, then there just comes a time when you do as much as you can," he said. "This is not something we can continue to live with."

The basic reality, as Rowe told the clients, staff and local leaders gathered for the open house, is that the building no longer fits the vision, mission and values of The Arc.

Take the basic layout of the 36,000-foot building, which is pretty much a large warehouse with cinder block walls, exposed I-beam rafters and few well-proportioned room divisions. It not only lacks the rooms specifically suited to new programs, such as The Arc's autism classes, but it's also deafening when a large group is assembled.

"The acoustics are horrible, and that is it because when it was first created, they had to put forklifts and boxes in. They did piece work and they got paid by the piece," Nancy said. "That has gone by the wayside years ago, and yet they still have to provide cooking skills program, painting, physical activities; and it's very distracting."

The design process for the renovation began in 2013, according to Rowe, who has taken feedback from those people who will use it most, staff and clients, to heart. Clients in wheelchairs wanted accessible curbs so that they could wheel themselves into the building on their own every morning, and one client, Rowe said, expressed concern about restrooms.

"She said, 'You have to have more bathrooms because I don't like waiting,' " Rowe said.

"We have people that take part in our cooking program that said, 'You know, it's very hard for me if I am in a wheelchair to participate in some of the cooking programs because the counters are too high. They are not at accessible height.' It's little things like that throughout the building that weren't probably code back then or probably even thought of back in 1986 that today are very obvious."

If all goes according to plan, Rowe said, construction — to be completed in phases to allow clients to remain in the building during the renovations — could begin this fall and will be an 11-month process.

Part of the plan is completing the fundraising necessary for the $3.5 million project, and Thursday's open house was also an opportunity to announce the public phase of The Arc's first major capital campaign since 1986, according to campaign chairman Lou Salafia. Thanks to an initial private donation of $150,000 from an anonymous family, another $150,000 from the Kahlert Foundation, $325,000 in Maryland Bond funding and other private donations, the campaign has just topped the $2 million mark.

"That is about the time that you go to a public launch. … It is going to happen, but you need people to help," Salafia said. "It's the people in the community that want to buy bricks; it's people that buy coffee from Furnace Hills coffee shop [in Westminster] where they can buy Arc coffee and give a donation; it's people buying naming rights to rooms. That's the next level of participation that we need."

People interested in contributing to the campaign or getting a tour or presentation about The Arc, can go to its Web page at, Rowe said.


A year ago, Rowe said, he never would have dreamed that his organization would be $2 million in to such a major capital campaign, but now that it is, he has faith that the people of Carroll will carry them through to the end.

"One of the things that has always impressed me about this community is that every group that has gone through a building or renovation, it amazingly gets done," he said. "We have some great facilities around this community that the public has supported, and so we hope people will feel that way about The Arc."