Rooted in the Community
Thank you to all who have been and continue to be a part of The Arc NCR’s mission. Whether past or present, an employee or community member, more lives have been impacted through this organization than can be shared.
Celebrate this milestone with us.
It all started back in January of 1953. Gas was 28 cents per gallon. Color television sets went on sale for the first time, and 71% of all television sets across the country tuned in to watch, “I Love Lucy.” This was also the time where the Civil Rights movement was gaining traction in America and beginning to grow. But, behind the scenes, these were the times of institutionalization. People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities were institutionalized as a normal thing to do, and they were largely hidden from view. The stigma around disabilities was detrimental and suffocating for both those with disabilities and their families.
The “normal” of 1953 is far from what it is today, but 10 families stood against that “normal” as it was not good enough for their children, and so they decided to make a change. On January 23, 1953, the organization now known as The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region was formed and began to empower people with differing abilities to live, work and thrive in the community.
Today, as The Arc NCR has been rooted in this community for 70 years, it is also important to see how the organization has helped to root those with differing abilities in this community. From helping parents and Treatment Foster Care parents navigate and plan for their children to have the best life possible, to adults landing their first job and finding a home of their own, these supports help people with differing abilities also be rooted in their community. A community where we are all included and have the opportunity to live a personally valued life.
Ruth Miller is a founding member of The Arc NCR. In 1953, she worked with nine other families from Harford and Cecil Counties and started the organization in their basement. Mrs. Miller has spent a lifetime advocating for the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Ruth and Ernest Miller wanted more for their daughter, Betty. They wanted her to receive an education, and to work and live in the community. Mrs. Miller knew Betty was capable of much more and after she completed school, Betty went on to work at Burger King for over 20 years and is now retired.
Ruth worked tirelessly driving the first bus for The Arc NCR and going door to door to raise money to pay the salary of the first teacher. Her dedication was immense.
Ruth Miller passed away on February 8, 2021 at the age of 100. Her legacy lives on and continues to inspire the next generation in empowering those with differing abilities to live, work and thrive in the community.
Live. Work. Thrive.
The vision for people with differing abilities to live in the community began with funding for a residential center in 1968. Land was bequeathed by a family receiving support from the agency in 1972, and a ground-breaking ceremony for group homes and an activity center, known as Brook Forest, took place in 1976. Today, The Arc NCR’s Community Living program serves over 90 people and over 30 homes throughout the community.
Employment was a goal early on for our founding families. In 1965, a sheltered workshop was created in a private home in Havre de Grace, producing rubber doormats. Today, The Arc NCR’s Employment Services program supports over 175 people and 62 employment partnerships across the community. Additionally, The Arc NCR’s partnership with DORS supports over 160 people.
After getting the basics in place, empowering people to live and work in the community, people began to thrive — expanding their horizons. In 1988, People First, an advocacy group was formed to engage in the community and over the following years, the remainder of The Arc NCR’s programs began; Community Partners, Family Support Services, Personal Supports and Treatment Foster Care. Learn about our services through the services tab in the website menu.
The Arc of a Lifetime
Our name is “The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region,” or “The Arc NCR,” for short. The correct use of our name means a lot. It represents supporting people with differing abilities over the arc of their lifetime. It means the only “r” word we use is “respect.” Here is the story of our name:
- 1953 — 10 families from Harford and Cecil Counties started the organization in their basement. The parents incorporated and named it “Northern Maryland Association of Retarded Citizens (NMARC).”
- 1993 — A movement began nationally to eliminate the use of “retarded” when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 1993, the “ARC” acronym was officially removed by The Arc of the United States. Our agency’s name changed to “The Arc of Harford County.”
- 1998 — Our name became “The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region.” This name promotes our mission and “The Arc” represents how we provide services over the “arc” of a lifetime. Our new name also encompasses the region we serve – Harford and Cecil Counties in the northern Chesapeake region of Maryland.
Milestones through the Decades
Click a decade below to learn about what was happening at that time.