Lisa Turner, Executive Director of TARC

As the only chapter of The Arc in the state of Oklahoma, TARC has both a unique opportunity and challenge. Around 60,000 Oklahomans have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities–and are spread across almost 70,000 square miles. The chapter employs a range of strategies to help as many people as possible. Read more about their work below.

Tell us what it’s like being the only chapter of The Arc in your state.

As
the only affiliate of The Arc in Oklahoma, TARC takes an active role in
convening organizations serving the I/DD community for events, like the
upcoming listening session in Tulsa. TARC participates in numerous statewide
initiatives that impact the lives of those we serve. We are active in public policy
and advocacy and recruit and train others across the state to join our efforts.

What communication strategies do you
employ to reach as many people as possible throughout the state? (emails, print
products, online groups, etc)

TARC
recently conducted a statewide community needs assessment to identify the unmet
needs of individuals with I/DD and their families and caregivers. Focus groups
included self-advocates, family members or caregivers, community partners, and
funders. Through this process, unmet needs were identified, helping to refine
TARC’s strategic plan and guiding us to form more partnerships and collaborations.

In
addition, we work with partners around the state like the Developmental
Disabilities Council, People First, and other like-minded organizations to help
generate awareness about I/DD-related events, advocacy opportunities, and
public policy issues.

How do you structure your programs
and services to be available to as many people as possible?

TARC
is stepping up communication and marketing strategies to develop the
infrastructure, partnerships, and tools to inform as many people as possible
about the needs of the I/DD community and services available. TARC just opened
a new office in Oklahoma City to increase our presence at the State Capitol and
engage in opportunities for more partnerships, services, and funding.

Do you partner with other providers
and organizations to maximize your ability to serve the community? If yes, how
so?

TARC
recently received the 2019 Goodwill Community Partner of the Year Award for
convening several providers and nonprofits to host a transition resource fair
for self-advocates. We also support two People First chapters, are active in
Oklahoma People First, and the Oklahoma Self-Advocates Network. Together, we
co-host I/DD awareness events at the Capitol and in our community. We also
invite participants from employment agencies to join us for MLK Volunteer
Service days.

How does being the only chapter in
the state affect your funding streams and strategy for engaging with sponsors,
grants, and donors?

TARC
contracts with the State of Oklahoma to provide residential advocacy and
monitoring for adults residing in state-funded group homes in all of Oklahoma’s
77 counties. For much of our organization’s history, funding has come from the Tulsa
area, where we are located. We recently began expanding our relationships with
funders and sponsors across the state since our reach really is statewide
through our advocacy work and our state contract.

Do you have any advice for other
chapters who are merging to cover a larger area, or who are also the only
chapter in a large geographic area?

Collaborations and partnerships are
key! Consider collective impact models to enhance your advocacy efforts and
voice. Together we are stronger.

Lisa
Turner, TARC Executive Director

lturner@ddadvocacy.net  

The post Serving a State: An Interview With the Only Chapter in Oklahoma appeared first on The Arc.

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