The New York State Association for Retarded Children was formed by parents who were determined to change forever society's traditional disregard for the needs of their children with mental retardation. Following an advertisement in the New York Post by two Bronx mothers interested in establishing a day nursery for their young children, a group of 200 New York City parents banded together at a public meeting to fight for the recognition of the children's special needs and capabilities. The group agreed upon the need for a single organization to represent the interests of those who are mentally retarded. A committee was appointed to draft a constitution and the organization was incorporated in February, 1949. The establishment of the Association marked a turning point for all citizens with mental retardation and their families in the United States. As a parent-based organization dedicated to political action on behalf of their children, the Association became a unique and effective organizational model which has been duplicated across the nation.


Parents from the Ogdensburg area began initial efforts to find ways to provide educational services to their children. Mr. Harold Christiana put out a note seeking parents to get together.


St. Lawrence County ARC Chapter is founded by a group of parents who recognized the need to develop educational and rehabilitative services for their children. Parents found a common bond in joining together to advocate for their children attending public school. The early days in the Chapter were difficult. Meetings were held quarterly to share information on mental retardation. A Parents Group was formed. From the Parents Group a Sunshine Club grew where parents could leave their children for short "respite" and a Saturday morning Arts and Crafts Program was operated. The Chapter salutes the perseverance of those early founding parents to whom today we owe so much of our present success.

Harold Christiana
Mary Johnson
Mildred Groulx
Jean Fisher
Mary Biondi
Phyllis Christiana
Elsie Lustick
John Calnon
Robert LaFaver, Sr.
Patrick Bruyere
Frances Jenne


St. Lawrence Association for Retarded Children was a United Way sponsored agency, funding provided assisted in program operations.


St. Lawrence ARC, in coordination with several school districts, serves children of the county through a community action program called Operation Head Start.

March 17, 1966

ARC Banner is published as part of a membership drive. The Banner was published once and contained an overview of programs, information on M.R. and grass roots information. At this early part of our history, the ARC consisted of five service units with St. Lawrence County. They were located in Ogdensburg, Canton, Potsdam, Massena and Gouverneur. The five units together composed the St. Lawrence Chapter. Centralization was achieved through a County Executive Board, and a County office, located at 14 Park Street in Canton. The County President was Gerald A. Gallagher. The Ogdensburg unit, met on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the MR Training Center, 735 State Street, Ogdensburg. The units consisted of a voluntary group of parents and friends advocating for approximately 450 retarded people in the area at this time.

Summer 1966 - 1967

Twelve individuals attended camp for one week at Mary Biondi's Camp, Oak Point.

Summer 1968

Individuals from ARC attended Camp Vigor in Parishville. This was a one week camping program.

September 1, 1968

With the hiring of an Executive Director, the Chapter is recognized as a professional organization. Richard L. Laurin is hired as the Agency's first Executive Director. Since 1968, the Agency has recognized a steady growth in service development.

February 24, 1969

St. Lawrence Seaway Rehabilitative facility in Hermon, NY is established. The site supported Administrative, Central Office and W.C. consumers. Work Center opens with twelve individuals.

June 23, 1969

This is a landmark date for the Agency's development. Through a coordinated, thoughtful process with the NYS Educational Department, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Facility Planning Committee, NYS Department of Mental Hygiene, Community Mental Health Board, United Way and Board of Directors, St. Lawrence County ARC begins its contract with the State of New York to provide vocational rehabilitation services for handicapped persons.

November 20, 1969

Property donated in Lisbon.

November 1971

Property donated in Morley.

Summer 1969

Individuals from ARC attended Camp Cornplanter in Pennsylvania. The camping was sponsored by the Community Mental Health Board and State Association for Retarded Children. The camp was located on a State Forest Reserve and provided a camping experience for individuals with mental retardation. Approximately fifty campers were transported to the camp by greyhound bus.

Summer 1970 - 1972

Individuals from ARC attended Camp Beavercross in the Schenectady area. This was a one week camping experience operated by of Diocese of Albany.

1971 - 1973

Individuals from ARC attended Camp Triangle in Clear Lake Junction. The camp provided camping experiences for MRDD individuals for 6-8 weeks, ten individuals attended per week. The camp was under the direction of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Schofeld.

January 1975

St. Lawrence County Chapter of NYS Association for Retarded Children Inc. forms St. Lawrence Hostels Inc.

April 1, 1975

Potsdam CR established at 2 State Street, Potsdam. The residence is certified for ten individuals. The property is owned by Sunmount DDSO.

September 1, 1975

Norwood CR established at 63 1/2 South Main Street, Norwood. The residence is certified for ten individuals.

June 23, 1976

The Norwood Work Center (Annex) was established. The program opened with forty-nine trainees who transferred from the Hermon Facility. By years end, the program was serving eighty individuals.

July 15, 1976

Ogdensburg Work Center established at 330-332 State Street, Ogdensburg. This was the former A & P site purchased by ARC on 11/21/75. Program has a certification for one-hundred and five individuals. Program initially served twenty-four individuals, by years end, forty-nine individuals were being served.

April 17, 1978

DeViller Street CR established at 413 DeViller Street, Ogdensburg. Developed as a supportive CR, the CR consists of two units with a total certification of nine individuals. This is a minimally supervised residence which is a step removed from independent living. Initially, four individuals were served in each unit. One unit was supportive, one was not. This was a benchmark for small home services. The property was purchased from Hamilton Lumber.

March 1, 1981

Norwood Day Treatment Program established at 83 Main Street, Norwood. The program has an operating capacity of eighty individuals. The program initially served twenty-four individuals transferred from the Norwood Annex who required more specialized services. By 12/31/81, enrollment has increased to thirty-four individuals.

March 20, 1981

Herman CR established at Main Street, Herman. The residence is certified for ten individuals.

February 22, 1982

Stephenville CR established at 13 Stephenville Road, Massena. After a four year effort the residence is certified for eleven individuals. On 6/13/94, residence was converted to a individualized residential alternative (IRA). The residence was initially developed as a specialized designed home intended to serve non-ambulatory individuals.

Summer 1982 - 1986

Individuals from ARC attended Camp Portaferry located in Fine. The camp operated for four weeks. The camp was operated by the Seaway Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America.


Microfilming Enclave established at the Surrogate Court Building, Canton.

July 25, 1985

With the expansion of SOICF in St. Lawrence County, St. Lawrence ARC in partnership with Sunmount DDSO begins services for twenty-two individuals relocated from the Staten Island Developmental Center. Twenty-two former Willowbrook classmates are admitted to Norwood Day Treatment. Since that time, the agency has provided services to over one hundred former class members.


Microfilming Enclave established at the Department of Social Services, Canton.

May 16, 1986

Pine Street Intermediate Care Facility established at 66 Lower Pine Street, Potsdam. Residence has a certified capacity for ten individuals.

July 1986

Norwood Day Treatment expands its operating capacity to one hundred twenty-four individuals due to continued expansion of services for Willow Brook class clients.

September 1986

Agency purchased lodge in Fine to be known as Dodge Pond. Site initially served as a base for staff training and provided social and recreational opportunities for the agency. Currently it functions primarily as a recreation site for camping/retreats and summer camp program. Dodge Pond is certified as a temporary residence.

January 19, 1987

Massena Work Center established at the Industrial Park, Massena. Program is certified for one hundred individuals.

June, 1987

An agency-sponsored summer camp begins at Dodge Pond The lodge provides shelter for forty individuals. The agency constructed two platform campsites which would accommodate an additional thirty campers. The campsites were designed by Richard Laurin, Dennis Durant designed the platform and Bill Volzer and our maintenance crew completed the construction on the site. In 1988 two additional platform campsites were added for the summer camping program.

November 1, 1987

Dana Street CR in Massena opens.

June 13, 1988

Temporary Day Treatment established at Annex, 6 Commerce Lane, Canton. This program accommodated twenty individuals scheduled to receive services when R.L.L. Center opened. February 15, 1989 R.L.L. Center opened at 6 Commerce Lane, Canton. The Center provides a base of operation for the Canton Day Habilitation Program, Canton Work Center, Central Office and Administration. Day Treatment has an operational capacity for seventy-five individuals, initially began with forty. Work Center has an operational capacity for ninety individuals.

May 1, 1989

Agency opens a garage annex in Canton. The garage serves as a repair facility for all agency vehicles. The garage is licensed as a NYS Repair Facility and Inspection Station. The garage serves as a work adjustment site for sheltered work center employees.


In addition to traditional residential services, a community-living services program began. This program provided assistance and support to developmentally disabled persons living in the community to prevent unnecessary entrance into certified living options. Initially, thirteen persons were directly served with five persons being placed into their own apartments.


Confidential Services Enclave is established at 21 Miner Street, Canton to complete UPS Packaging.

April 1, 1991

Confidential Services relocated to 19 Main Street, Canton. Established as an Enclave. Moved to 13 Hodskin.

May 1991

Closure of Seaway Industries Norwood Annex. Individuals served at the site are relocated to work centers meeting geographic needs.

June 17, 1991

The Green Lumber LTD Enclave in Stockholm is established with the closure of the Norwood Work Center. The facility offers a placement opportunity for several individuals. The program would cease operations in June, 1992.

April 16, 1993

Potsdam Day Treatment established at 22 Depot Street (Market Square Mall). Program has an operational certification for sixty individuals.

May 4, 1994

Canton IRA established at 24 West Main Street, Canton. Residence is certified for two individuals.

May 6, 1994

Gouverneur IRA opens at 244 Rock Island.

June 6, 1994

Waddington IRA is established at 82 Allison Road, Waddington. Residence is certified for four individuals.

June 13, 1994

Stephenville CR in Massena converted to IRA.

November 14, 1994

Gouverneur Day Habilitation Program is established at 7 Factory Street, Gouverneur. Program initially provided services to seven individuals. Currently it services twelve individuals. Program designed for seniors-based activities.

November 14, 1994

Massena Day Habilitation Program is established at 2 Leslie Road, Massena. Program initially provided services to six individuals and eleven individuals. Program is designed for seniors-based activities.

January 1, 1995

Seaway Industries enters into contract with NISH (National Industries for the Severely Handicapped). Under the program, St. Lawrence NYSARC was initially responsible for janitorial services for the Rooseveltown border station and the Customs House in Ogdensburg. Individuals are initially employed for these placements.

April 10, 1995

Redemption Center Enclave is established at 7 Factory Street, Gouverneur.

April 13, 1995

Gouverneur IRA at 102 Rock Island Street is established. Residence is certified for five individuals.

April 13, 1995

Fowler IRA is established at 4415 State Highway 58, Gouverneur. The residence is certified for five individuals.

January 22, 1996

Canton Day Habilitation was established at 37 Gouverneur Street, Canton. Program initially provided services to six individuals, currently twelve. The facility also serves as a home base for Family Support Services.

August 26, 1996

Redemption Center Enclave is established at 74 East Hatfield Street, Massena.

June 2, 1997

Data 4-U Storefront is established at 24 Market Street, Potsdam. Twelve individuals are initially enrolled. Program is certified for sixteen individuals.

April 6, 1998

Highland Day Habilitation is established at 2 Leslie Road, Massena. This program is specifically designed to serve the deaf and blind individuals. Program initially began with six individuals.

March 23, 1998

Norfolk IRA is established at Furnace Street, Norfolk. The residence is certified for five individuals.

September 23, 1998

Grove Street IRA established at 16 Grove Street, Canton. The residence is certified for three individuals.

May 1, 1999

Laurel Run, an initiative to celebrate NYSARC's 50th anniversary, dreams and achievements of individuals with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, began May 1st in eight counties throughout the state. St. Lawrence County was a designated start county. All 58 NYSARC chapters participated in the statewide event which concluded on June 11, 1999 with a ceremony at the New York State Capitol. Our Chapter-sponsored run began in Ogdensburg, NY on May 1st and concluded on May 2nd at the county line outside Gouverneur, NY. Over 300 individuals participated in our chapter run which covered a 100 mile route throughout St. Lawrence County.

April 1, 1999

Dana Street CR in Massena converted to IRA.

April 1, 1999

Deviller Street CR in Ogdensburg converted to IRA.

June 30, 1999

Pine Street ICF in Potsdam converted to IRA.

July 14, 1999

Hermon IRA established at 82 Main Street, Hermon. The residence is certified for six individuals.

July 14, 1999

Potsdam CR converted to IRA.

September 1999

Career Opportunities established at 21 Miner Street in Canton. Career Opportunities provides individuals with the support they need to obtain and maintain employment and at the same time functions as a personnel management resource to local area employers through specialized job matches.

November 2000

Hermon Multipurpose Facility is established at 122 Canton St. in Hermon, NY. The program is certified for 25 individuals.

April 18, 2001

Amherst IRA established at 35 Amherst Road, Massena, NY. The residence is certified for three individuals. June 2001 Maple St IRA is established.

December 19, 2001

Dekalb IRA established at Gibbons Road, Dekalb. The residence is certified for six individuals.

December 26, 2001

Dodge Pond Day Habilitation is established at our Dodge Pond facility in Fine, NY. The program is certified for 16 individuals.

December 2004

Edwards IRA opens.

April 2005

Miner Street IRA opens, Grove Street IRA closes, relocating to Miner Street. Data-4-U closes.

May 2004

St. Lawrence NYSARC hired the Agency's first Director of Community Relations in an effort to build awareness of programs and services, as well as increase funding opportunities for innovative services.

October 2004

The Community Relations Department received a grant from The Alcoa Foundation to start the Community Arts Program, the county's first service dedicated to bringing cultural art learning experiences to people with developmental disabilities.

January 2005

The Community Arts Program began meeting twice a week at the Snack Bar at RLL with 10 participants with intellectual disabilities ranging in ages from 20 to 82. The program was staffed by a Community Arts Specialist with assistance from several staff volunteers.

May 2005

The Community Arts Program held its first Spring Showcase at the Kingston Memorial Theater at SUNY Canton. The show featured monologues, poems, musical performances, a one-act Murder Mystery play, and a visual arts display.

June 2005

The Community Relations Department redefined the Agency's Volunteer Program, to better meet the changing interests of both community volunteers and program participants. .

October 2005

The Community Arts Program added several new participants to the group of "Community Players." The program also formed a volunteer partnership with Jane DuBray of the Gotta Dance Studio. Five participants began taking weekly jazz and tap dance lessons at RLL.

December 2005

The updated Volunteer Program had 50 volunteers generously donate more than 500 hours of service to provide new experiences to the people we serve throughout the previous year.

January 2006

The Agency's commitment to begin promotional efforts culminated in positive media exposure more than 80 times in various outlets during 2005.

January 2006

The Community Relations and Staff Training Departments established Team NYSARC, a volunteer outreach group devoted to supporting our local communities. The Team was made up of staff, employees, community members, as well as individuals within the Agency.

February 2006

The Community Relations Department and Arts Program moved to its new home at the Community Center in Canton. With a donation from the Foundation of St. Lawrence NYSARC, the program was able to purchase lighting and sound equipment for its new built stage and workshop location.

April 2006

The 25th Annual Fund Raiser Drawing was held at the Best Western in Canton, N.Y. WWNYTV news anchor Jeff Cole hosted the drawing which included a silent auction of art work as an addition to the event.

May 2006

The Community Arts Program was established as a Supplemental Day Habilitation Program; allowing additional funding for the expansion of services. The acting and guitar groups continued to hone their skills and improve their abilities. The 2nd Annual Arts Showcase was held at the Kingston Theater at SUNY Canton. This performance consisted of monologues, poems, dance performances, musical performances, a one-act comedy play, and a visual art display.

June 2006 - August 2006

The Community Arts Program began to offer services to day program participants, so that an expanded group of people could experience arts therapy.

September 2006

The Community Arts program added two new people to the group.

October 2006

The Community Arts Program hired two additional staff members to assist with acting workshops and to teach visual arts workshops.

January 2007

The Arts Program expanded its services to include weekly visual arts workshops and provide services to eight more people.

January 2007

Over the course of 2006, St. Lawrence NYSARC's Volunteer Program grew to over 90 volunteers who provided than 1,500 hours of service to the Agency.

February 2007

St. Lawrence NYSARC formed a partnership with SUNY Potsdam's Theatre Department. Five participants of the Acting Program began taking an Applied Theatre Class with SUNY Students. One day a week, the students would attend class at the NYSARC facility and one day a week, the NYSARC actors would attend class on the college campus. The students and participants worked together to explore the question, "What is it like living with a disability?" Based on interviews done with the students and participants, they co-wrote a one-act play titled, Just Like Me.

March 2007

Team NYSARC expanded to more than 80 program participants, staff, employees and community members.

April 2007

For the second time in the Agency's history, the Annual Fund Raiser sold out of certificates.

May 2007

The 3rd Annual Arts Showcase was sponsored by SUNY Potsdam and held at the Dunn Theater. The show consisted of monologues, poems, musical performances, skits, dance performances, a visual arts gallery showing, and the play, Just Like Me.

September 2007

The Arts program secured funding to purchase a van that allowed the dance group to travel to their instructor's studio in Massena, so they could take lessons in an integrated setting.

October 2007

The Foundation of St. Lawrence NYSARC hosted the first annual Art Benefit to introduce The Foundation and a gift of $249,000.

October 2007

The Community Dancers were featured performers at a benefit show held at the Lighthouse in Massena, N.Y.

November 2007

Flame, a band of people with disabilities from Lexington Center, performed their first concert in St. Lawrence County at the Best Western in Canton, N.Y.

May 2008

The Community Arts Program's 4th Annual Showcase was held at SUNY Potsdam's College Theatre. The performance consisted of monologues, poems, comedic scenes, musical performances, ten adapted Shakespearian mini-plays and a visual arts gallery showing.

August 2008

The Community Arts Program secured funds through OMRDD to allow for expansion of services, which meant the addition of fifteen new people. The program continues to cultivate community partnerships and working with SUNY Potsdam's Drama Department.

September 2008

Flame, a band of people with disabilities from Lexington Center, performed for an integrated community group of more than 350 people at SUNY Potsdam.

September 2008

The County's first Autism Awareness Walk, hosted by Team NYSARC, was held. More than 200 people attended the event, which was held at the Park in Canton, N.Y. Opening comments were provided by Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.