The Arc of Acadiana Northwest, a residential facility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has opened seven resale clothing stores and a nursery and pottery business at its 100-acre campus in Bossier City. Arc employee Ruth Fox moved to Bossier City in December to start preparing for the launch of the resale stores that are in a converted activities building. She finds the new nursery has been the biggest draw for shoppers.
“They love the plants. They’re really reasonable. Actually, since we’ve opened, most of my sales have been with the nursery," Fox said, standing in a sun-filled open court, which once housed offices and services for the residents.
Nearly eight months ago, this facility was privatized and taken over by The Arc of Acadiana, part of a national nonprofit that promotes and protects the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Arc of Acadiana Northwest director April Lee said since the takeover there’s been much more of a focus on finding meaningful employment for her 124 residents. She said the resale stores are another avenue for jobs.
“Monday through Friday our focus is on people working – just like you and I would do – and finding jobs that they can get paid for, earn money and be productive, not just finding jobs that don’t mean anything," Lee said.
Arc of Acadiana chief operations officer Cindy Leleux wants to introduce the Arc to the northwest part of the state because its services are much more deep-rooted in southwest Louisiana. She said the resale stores are one way to get people on campus and learning about its mission.
“We want to get the community involved in supporting us because I think we’re offering viable services, and we need the community’s support," Leleux said from her New Iberia, La., office.
The resale stores are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at 5401 Shed Road in Bossier City. Lee hopes to expand with Saturday hours once foot traffic picks up. Tomorrow, Lee reflects on the transition going from a state-run facility to a private institution.