The Herkimer ARC began in May of 1969, when a group of parents asked the questions: "Who will care for our children and what will they do when they reach the age of 21?" Early programming started with a summer camp, where 20 children and teens were enrolled.
Throughout the years, The Herkimer ARC has embraced a mission to empower people and to enrich lives. Thanks to dedicated board members, staff, volunteers, and the community—for over forty years, HARC has grown from a group of loving parents looking for programs for their children to over 400 staff members providing vital and meaningful services to 700 individuals with disabilities. Today, the Herkimer ARC's budget stands at over $20 million dollars and the agency is the second largest employer in Herkimer County.
After the initial success of the summer camp, an activity center was established in 1972. Soon after in 1973, the first vocational training center and workshop was opened. In 1974 the Herkimer ARC's Residential Services welcomed residents to the agency's initial residential home on Garden Street in Little Falls. With steady and continued growth, the Herkimer ARC Transportation Services was born. In the early years individuals were transported between home, programs, and work with a borrowed van and family vehicles. With increasing demand, the program formally began in 1975.
The Herkimer ARC's first major expansion began in 1979 with a Day Treatment program. By the mid 1980s, the Herkimer ARC started supportive work programs, supervised and supportive apartments, and parenting programs. Individualized Service Planning (ISP) began in the early 1990s and by the late 1990s, The Herkimer ARC created clinic services, and the spirituality and guardianship programs, along with opening a Respite Home.
Starting in 2000, the Herkimer ARC expanded the vocational workshop, and implemented person-centered planning, quality assurance, and corporate compliance. Valley Commons opened offering 24-hour support and homes for parents with disabilities, along with their families. A community Recreation Center opened to offer meaningful activities for both children and adults. the Herkimer ARC's Career Connections, which provides employment opportunities, and the Goodwill-HARC Store and Donation Center opened in a downtown location to ensure easy accessibility for job seekers and shoppers. Day & Clinical Services also initiated the Bridges program, which allows individuals to choose activities of their choices which help them achieve success.
Today, people with developmental, psychological, and physical disabilities have many opportunities to choose from such as attending individualized classes, working in a supported vocational setting or the community, participating in programming at a Senior Center, and volunteering in the community, among many others. Since the very beginning and continuing today, the Herkimer ARC continually strives to be the premier provider of innovative and quality services for people with disabilities and others in the community.