VersAbility Resources


Our Beginnings

January 1, 1953

A group of parents and other concerned community leaders joined with the Woman’s Club of Warwick to promote the welfare of people with developmental disabilities. Out of this first effort, the Peninsula Council for Help of Retarded Children (PCHRC) was formed. The early years can be characterized as a period of education for individuals with disabilities, their parents, and the community as a whole. The organization connected with the national movement by affiliating with the Virginia and National Councils for Retarded Children. The organization’s primary goal was to establish services to fill the void that existed at that time. Emphasis was placed on working with school officials to establish special education classes in public schools.

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Peninsula Vocational Center Established

January 1, 1959

Preschool classes began operating in the community and a Parents Auxiliary organization was formed to provide social and recreational activities for individuals with disabilities. The Council also established the Peninsula Vocational Center, an on-site employment program in downtown Newport News to provide work activities for adults with developmental disabilities.

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New Name and Facilities

January 1, 1960

The organization grew substantially in the 1960s and changed its name to the Peninsula Association for Retarded Children (PARC). Chester Carlson, inventor of the xerographic process, and his wife Dorris became interested in helping the PARC secure quality facilities for their services. The generosity of the Carlsons enabled the organization to purchase 38 acres of land in Hampton and establish the Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Center as a regional alternative to institutions. PARC subsequently created the Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Foundation for the purpose of owning and managing the physical property. Also during the 1960s, Boy Scout Troop 140 and Girl Scout Troop 65 were formed and became the primary organizations to sponsor recreational and social activities for individuals with disabilities. These two troops were eventually combined into Explorer Post 140, which today is the largest special-needs scout troop in the United States.

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Expansion of Facilities and Services

March 25, 2019

The expansion of facilities and services for individuals with developmental disabilities continued during the 1970s. Emphasis was placed on the creation of programs and services aimed at enhancing the skills of individuals. Additions were made to the Vocational Center and a gymnasium was built on the Sarah Bonwell Hudgins campus. Two residential cottages were also built on the campus, each housing 10 individuals. The cottages were subsequently converted into two ICF/MRs (Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded) and were the first ICF/MR facilities in the state.

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Community-Based Programs Created

January 1, 1980

Inclusion was the dominant theme for PARC throughout the 1980s, as the organization created community-based programs and services for individuals with disabilities. Major accomplishments included: Initiation of a Government Contracts program to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities via a unique set-aside program created under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act (JWOD). The Arc’s first contracts included custodial work at federal facilities, as well as a large commissary contract at Langley Air Force Base. Establishment of two community-based group homes, one in Hampton and one in Newport News. Creation of the Early Prevention and Intervention for Children (EPIC) program, initially sponsored by the Virginia United Methodist Agency for the Retarded (VUMAR). The program was originally housed in a facility in Hilton Village to be close to the families involved. Development of the Supported Employment program, a specialized job placement and support service that helps individuals succeed in community-based jobs. Establishment of an after-school and summer program for school-aged children with developmental disabilities. Creation of an adult day support program in the Denbigh section of Newport News for older individuals and those with more significant disabilities.

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Newly Named The Arc

January 1, 1990

Throughout the 1990s, PARC continued to work diligently to create programs that met the changing needs of individuals with disabilities. Significant activities this decade included: To remain consistent with the state/national organizations and out of respect for self-advocates who asked for limiting the use of the term retarded, the organization changed its name from Peninsula Association for Retarded Citizens (PARC) to The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, Inc. (The Arc). Center-based Employment continued to grow, as more individuals chose to work on-site and The Arc received more work contracts. The Arc’s EPIC program moved onto the Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Campus in 1997. A primary challenge during this decade was obtaining housing for individuals with disabilities. The Arc was successful in securing HUD grants to purchase three houses in the community.

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Assumed Operation of Lewis Puller Center

January 1, 2001

With support from United Way, The Arc created the Transition to Work program to guide students from the special education program to successful employment. We continue to work with local school systems to expand this program. The Arc assumed operation of the Lewis B. Puller Center in Gloucester in 2001. The Puller Center is the only work program serving the ten counties on the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck.

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Electronics Recycling Program Innovated

January 1, 2002

The Arc was named the prime contractor for ship provisioning services for the United States Navy on the West Coast. The Arc created an innovative e-Recycling program to keep waste out of landfills. The new program of Electronics recycling in Hampton Roads creates jobs for individuals with disabilities. The local Infant and Toddler Connection selected The Arc’s EPIC program as the primary provider of service coordination services for children from birth to age three in Hampton and Newport News.

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The Arc Moves Headquarters

January 1, 2005

The Arc moved its headquarters and day programs to a newly renovated 100,000 square foot facility in Copeland Industrial Park in Hampton. This new location has provided staffing solutions that facilitated a number of successful business partnerships and allowed us to expand our work programs and continue to provide jobs in Hampton Roads for people with disabilities.

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Soluble Systems Establishes a Partnership

January 1, 2007

Soluble Systems established a partnership with The Arc and built a clean room at the Copeland site to manufacture TheraGauze TM, a revolutionary wound-care product. The Arc created a Therapeutic Recreation program with a grant from the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation. The goal of this program is to increase recreational opportunities, teach new skills, and expand social and volunteer activities that improve the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities. Through a partnership with local Kiwanis Clubs, The Arc created an Aktion Club. The club is a social and service organization for individuals with disabilities. The Arc hosted its first Winter Gala, an annual event to raise money for The Arc and increase community awareness. The event is now held each December.

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Puller Center and Envisions Expanded

January 1, 2008

Services for individuals on the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck were greatly improved when The Arc purchased and renovated a much larger facility and moved the Puller Center’s operations. The revitalized Puller Center provides meaningful work and quality services for individuals with developmental disabilities from the ten counties on the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck. The Center is also contributes to the local economy, becoming a source of pride for the region and can ultimately serve up to 100 individuals with disabilities.The Arc’s Envisions Day Support program expanded to additional space at the Hampton facility.

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Military Mail Services Contract Awarded

January 1, 2009

The Arc was awarded a contract to provide official military mail services for the United States Air Force at ten Air Combat Command Bases across the country.

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Document Imaging Business Launched

January 1, 2010

The Arc was awarded the East Coast ship provisioning sites when the Navy decided to bundle the contract (The Arc had been providing ship provisioning services on the West Coast since 2002). As part of the contract, The Arc hired approximately 100 employees with disabilities to fulfill the contract at Naval Station Norfolk. The Arc’s partnership with Alcoa Howmet was expanded in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). The grant helped add six new positions at the plant for individuals with disabilities and provides the salary for a full-time supervisor from The Arc. Alcoa has expressed their desire to continue to expand their partnership with The Arc and possibly replicate it around the country. The Arc launched a new document imaging line of business to generate additional revenue and provide more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

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A Year of Positive Changes

January 1, 2011

The Arc opened a new home, Cloverleaf House, to transition a Waiver home to an ICF house (Intermediate Care Facilities, which are very similar to nursing homes). The Arc increased our outreach to various partners to help transition residents from state-run training centers to homes in the community. The Arc’s Board of Directors expanded their advocacy activities by creating the Governmental Affairs Committee. The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula adopted a new logo, which was designed by The Arc of the US as part of their nationwide branding campaign. The Arc received a two year, $200,000 grant from Bank of America in support of our employment programs for people with disabilities. The grant supports The Arc’s expansion of our lines of business that meet community needs while providing ongoing jobs for people with disabilities.

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A Year of Firsts

January 1, 2012

The Arc transformed its existing golf tournament, The PenAm, into The Arc Am. The revitalized event also adopted a new home, Cedar Point Country Club, and boasted an after party for golfers and the community, Party at the Point. In its first year, The Arc Am raised more than $70,000 for The Arc! The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula was awarded a significant grant from The Arc of US and the Walmart Foundation to expand its e-Recycling program. This grant allows The Arc to market the recycling services throughout the community and create more jobs for people with disabilities. The Arc’s Firsts The Arc prides itself on creating programs that meet the changing needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, including: The Arc prides itself on creating programs that meet the changing needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, including: The 1st Vocational Training Center on the Peninsula and the 15th in the nation The 1st preschool for children with developmental disabilities on the Peninsula The 1st Summer Day Camp children with developmental disabilities on the Peninsula The 1st Boy & Girl Scout Troops for people with disabilities and the 1st Explorer Post on the Peninsula (scouting units for people with disabilities) The 1st early intervention program on the Peninsula The 1st provider of specialized transportation on the Peninsula The 1st small, community-based Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR) The 1st group homes located in community neighborhoods on the Peninsula The 1st supported employment…

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Arc Becomes VersAbility Resources

January 1, 2013

Looking forward to the future of our organization, it was decided that in 2013, our 60th anniversary year, The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula would adopt a new organizational name and brand. While still affiliated with The Arc of the United States, the name The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula no longer represented out services, some of which are nationwide in scope. On October 1, 2013, we adopted a new name – VersAbility Resources. This name is a fusion of Versatile and Abilities, a true representation of the individuals with disabilities we have proudly served for 60 years.  This new name reflects our growing service area and commitment to creating new opportunities that highlight the abilities of people with disabilities.

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Improve the lives of individuals with disabilities in our community.