Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on nonprofit organizations that improve Santa Rosa County residents’ quality of life.
MILTON — The Arc of the Emerald Coast Santa Rosa, which provides services for children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, has a lot to celebrate for its eighth annual Blueberry Bash, according to a letter supporters received earlier this month.
“A kind benefactor saw our story on the news, researched the works of The Arc of the Emerald Coast, and followed his heart,” Arc of the Emerald Coast Community Development Director Donna Tashik wrote. “In mid-May, Mr. Eric Herrholz (of Gulf Breeze) purchased the property that currently houses our offices and Adult Day Training Center, and has leased it to us indefinitely.”
The Arc of the Emerald Coast, based in Fort Walton Beach, took over the Santa Rosa location in May 2015. However, the Arc of Santa Rosa still owed $300,000-plus in fines and fees to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration due to improper documentation and non-compliance with staffing guidelines.
The state was going to sell the Arc of Santa Rosa’s building to meet what the nonprofit owed. Herrholz purchased the building and leased it to the Arc of the Emerald Coast for $100 a year, effectively solving this dilemma.
Arc staffers have been confident services for their clients would continue in some form. Before Herrholz decided to purchase the Arc building, staff were working with Santa Rosa County commissioners to find a building to keep providing services, according to Arc of the Emerald Coast Community Development Coordinator Carol Lutz.
Due to Herrholz’s generosity, Arc staff is looking to increase services in the Santa Rosa location.
“The Arc of Emerald Coast will have additional services never offered before in Santa Rosa County. One of those is a group home,” Lutz said.”It gives them a little independence. They’ll actually have a home and it’s handicap-equipped ready for the needs they have. That’s the first thing we’re looking at.”
The Arc Emerald Coast Santa Rosa also provides job training such as taking care of Hawkins Park, located at 5550 Bubba Lane in Milton.
“The clients are taking care of that, the restrooms and property there,” Lutz said. “It gives them a little bit of money of their own.”
The Blueberry Bash will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24 at The Arc of the Emerald Coast Santa Rosa, located at 6225 Dixie Road in Milton.