Corks for a Cause: The Arc of the Emerald Coast

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
This year's funding of $180,000 from the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation will help complete the renovation of The Children's Center.

Editor’s Note: Each month the Destin Log will share a story from one of the charity partners benefiting from the support of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

One in 10 American families has a member with an intellectual developmental disability, resulting in more than 7.5 million people in the U.S. with a cognitive or intellectual condition.

Horizons was founded in 1989 and is an affiliate of The Arc of the United States, the world’s largest grassroots advocacy organization for citizens of all ages with cognitive, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, and their families.

In June 2015, Horizons of Okaloosa County was renamed The Arc of the Emerald Coast. While their name may have changed, their mission remains the same — to create a path from disability to capability by providing exceptional services so people of all ages can work, play, learn, achieve personal goals, and live meaningful lives. The Arc of the Emerald Coast assists people of all ages with more than 100 different diagnoses, including Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and more.

Serving Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties, the Arc of the Emerald Coast has been a Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) partner since 2010. Through this partnership, the organization has earned donations totaling almost $750,000. This year’s funding of $180,000 completes the renovation of The Children’s Center.

The renovation expanded the Children Center’s ability to provide child care from 84 to 180 children, and provided the kids a large, open space, updated technology, well-stocked libraries, and interactive toys. The Children’s Center now also offers an after-school program, summer programs and extended care.

“The building is safer, brighter, bigger, better equipped, and more functional,” says Executive Director of The Arc of the Emerald Coast Dr. Julie McNabb. “Watching children who have disabilities play, laugh, and learn side by side those who do not, affirms the generosity of the people of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.”

“Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation is honored to play a role in helping families and children with intellectual development disability through the Arc of the Emerald Coast. It is very hard to imagine our community without this incredibly important resource. Their work is what motivates all of us associated with DCWAF to raise more money for children in Northwest Florida,” said DCWAF President John Russell

Located in Fort Walton Beach off Race Track Road, The Arc of the Emerald Coast will also benefit from the addition of an aquatic center next door. Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation funds will help buy specialized equipment, fund scholarships for swim lessons, and provide start-up funds for an education center to be built adjacent to the pool.

The education center will give The Arc of the Emerald Coast a well-designed space in which they can focus on the Birth to Three, Early Intervention services. This program is designed to provide educational support to parents of children who have been identified as having delays in at least two developmental areas. Long-term plans also call for offices for the Early Intervention Specialists; open play space for visiting therapists; a kitchen with enough space to teach small groups cooking and nutrition; and a lending ‘library’ for specialized equipment needed by the children.

“The work done with children from the ages of birth to three produces monumental, life-altering results for both the child and family,” McNabb said. “The sooner a child and his/her family address the areas of delay the less likely those areas will cause life-long difficulty.”

“Without DCWAF, the Children’s Center would remain in a dilapidated old building with a dwindling population. With DCWAF, it is a robust center full of life, learning, and laughter," she said.

To learn more about the Arc of the Emerald Coast, see http://arcemeraldcoast.org/. For more information about the DCWAF, see http://www.dcwaf.org/.