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History of The Arc of Davidson County

The Arc of Davidson County was founded in 1964 by families of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are committed to securing for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to choose and realize their goals of where and how they learn, live, work and play.

 The Arc of Davidson County is an affiliated chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States.

Humble Beginnings

Initially, local meetings were held in the homes of the members, and later in a courtroom at the Davidson County Courthouse. Members attended workshops and conventions across the state to gather information to benefit the local agency.

In 1970, the members developed a plan and voted to open a daycare center. Because state funds were not available, they borrowed money from local banks, held fundraising events, and recruited parent and volunteer support. This started what operates today as the Developmental Center at South Lexington Primary School. It opened at the First Lutheran Church in Lexington.

In 1975, the Right to Education federal law was passed. School systems had until 1982 to provide programs within the school system. The Arc played an important role in the passing of this law in North Carolina. The Arc of North Carolina brought a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, and the law is known today as the Public Law 94-142.

In 1980, The Arc Board of Directors approached the Lexington City School System and asked them to take over operations of the Developmental Center. State and federal funds were allocated to schools, and the City of Lexington did not have a classroom program in place.

The agreement between the city school system and The Arc was that the program would also serve county children. The Arc went through hard times financially to keep the program in place.

With the help of the Davidson County 4-H Extension office in 1976, The Arc organized 4-H clubs for the children with disabilities in Lexington and Thomasville. This was the first 4-H program in the state for people with disabilities.

The group met and attended 4-H summer camp with typically developing children for 11 years—this was the beginning of inclusion into the statewide 4-H program. Persons who are no longer a part of the 4-H program are now members of the Self-Advocacy Program.

Our Locations Through the Years

The Arc of Davidson County opened its first office in 1978 on West Center Street in Lexington, staffed by volunteers for the first year, and then with a part-time director. Later, the office was moved to a Talbert Boulevard location and shared space with the then Lexington Area United Way.

After this building was sold, the office moved to the old Grimes School and shared space with the Area Mental Health Program. In 1981, the Area Mental Health Program approached The Arc to take over operation of 2 group homes that were being licensed by the Department of Social Services.

Remodeling had to be completed along with numerous improvements. Once again, the board members signed notes at the bank to borrow money, which was used as operating funds.

The Arc of Davidson County bought the home located at 6 Vance Circle with a block building in back. The purchase was made possible through fundraisers and agency solicitation. Eventually, the building was renovated to house the administrative offices. Simultaneously, the home was remodeled to operate as a group home for residents being moved from one of the original homes through mental health.

In 1982, The Arc of Davidson County filed an application with Arc/HDS for a grant to build a new group home. Between 1982 and 1996, funding has been received for 4 new group homes supporting 23 individuals with disabilities. The people who once lived in the Vance Circle home moved into that last group home that was built in November 1996. The Administrative offices were previously housed at that location.

A Continuously Growing Organization

In March 2014, The Arc purchased the property located at 1900 South Main Street. The intention was to move the administrative offices into a one-story, accessible building. It was also done to expand opportunities for agency growth in response to the needs of the community.

The relocation occurred in June 2014. The agency was able to deliver additional services, including the Bridges Day Supports program, Supported Employment, respite, and other 1:1 services. The Arc became a Community Rehabilitation Program with NC Vocational Rehabilitation in the spring of 2020, creating more opportunities for individuals to work in competitive wage employment.

Awards and Recognition

Since 2012, The Arc of Davidson County has received the Distinguished Affiliate Award at the annual meeting of The Arc of North Carolina. This honor recognizes the dedication, commitment, and the professionalism of the chapters of The Arc.

A chapter that receives that recognition has met strict criteria. It means the chapter has provided advocacy, instituted programs, encouraged diversity, as well as participated in and supported activities that benefit people with I/DD in their communities. The Arc Davidson County was one of 10 chapters out of 29 affiliated chapters statewide to receive this recognition.

The Arc of Davidson County was also awarded the Membership Award for the greatest percentage increase in membership in 2012.

Also in 2012, Davidson County Parks and Recreation received the Inclusive Community Award. They were nominated by The Arc of Davidson County for their partnership with the Summer Respite program. This award recognizes an organization that is building connections within the community to support and serve people with and without disabilities.

The Arc of North Carolina recognized The Arc of Davidson County in 2013 with the Communicators Award and the Victor Hall Leadership Award. Given to a self-advocate, this award recognizes an individual with a developmental disability who exemplifies leadership within the self-advocacy movement.

In 2015, The Arc of North Carolina recognized Davidson County citizens for the following state awards: Victor Hall Leadership, Inclusive Community, and Teacher of the Year. One-third of the awards were brought back to Davidson County.

In 2016, McDonald's of Lexington received the Employer of the Year Award.

In 2018, both the Inclusive Community Award and the teacher of the Year Award were given to Davidson County organizations and individuals.

Executive Director Teresa McKeon accepts the 2016 Carey Fendley Award for Executive Excellence from The Arc of North Carolina.

This prestigious award is for outstanding leadership on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our state.


We welcome job applications from qualified candidates. If you are interested, download the document below.

Employment Application

Call us today at 336-248-2842 to learn more about our organization.
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