Arc lets five people go to keep up programs

Charity lost income as donors gave less stock to thrift store

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The Arc

For more information about The Arc of Southwest Washington, call 360-254-1562 or go to The Arc.

Decreasing revenues led The Arc of Southwest Washington to lay off five employees this week, but no programs are scheduled to be cut.

Justin Myers, president of the Arc’s Board of Directors, said Tuesday the layoffs were crucial to protect services.

“The Arc has been here for 76 years, and we’ll continue to be here,” Myers said.

Known as the Arc of Clark County until last year’s merger with the Arc of Cowlitz County, the Vancouver-based Arc of Southwest Washington serves more than 6,000 people a year in Clark, Skamania, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties.

The Arc offers programs and services for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Its annual budget has dropped in the past few years from $2.65 million to $1.8 million, and the staff is down from 57 employees in 2011 to approximately 40, Myers said.

In January, the executive director left and the board of directors opted to not replace him, instead shifting the work to two directors.

On March 31, the nonprofit organization hosted a successful charity gala. Jill Campbell, director of operations, said 275 people attended “Cinderella’s Sneakers,” and the event raised $35,000.

Overall, though, donations have been down, Myers said.

Much of the organization’s budget comes from sales of secondhand clothing and household goods at the Value Village thrift store, 7110 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.

The store, stocked with donations to The Arc, hasn’t been receiving as many donations, a fact Myers attributes to the economy — people don’t donate used clothes when they don’t buy new ones — and increased competition for used goods from other thrift stores.

“We try to be on the forefront of people’s minds,” said Myers, a vice president with U.S. Bank.

The Arc did discontinue its popular family program, PRIDE, in December, but hopes to restructure the program and restart it later this year, Myers said.

“We love the children, and we know it’s a huge service to provide.”

Stephanie Rice: stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.