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Event sparks advocacy awareness

The Arc of Beaufort County is providing the spark for a good time supporting a good cause this Saturday at Washington event venue Fox Hollow Farm.

“Arc with a Spark” is an inaugural fundraiser for the nonprofit that for 40 years has been advocating for and serving those with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

“This is the first time that I know of that we’ve attempted to do something like this. The whole idea is to not only raise funds but also to expand our name and what we do to more people, not only in Beaufort County or Pitt County, but other counties as well,” said Tracy Warren, president of the Arc of Beaufort County’s board of directors.

The word seems to have gotten out: 30 tables, seating eight people each, have been purchased by supporters for Saturday night’s event so far, Warren said. While dancing to live music by The Special Occasion Band and heavy hors d’oeuvres by Carryout by Chrislyn are part of the fare, so is information about what the Arc of Beaufort County is and what the organization does to improve the lives of those with I/DD.

“The Arc of Beaufort County has been around since, like, 1980. It has to reinvent itself all the time, because we have to be proactive in the changes that occur that affect those with I/DD, especially those that want to live independently,” Warren said.

Warren has been advocating for I/DD rights for the past three decades — his now 40-year-old daughter has I/DD and sparked his involvement. He served on the board of the Arc of North Carolina for more than 20 years, and as its president for part of that. When he moved to Beaufort County in 2015, the retired educator immediately sought out the local chapter.

With a very small budget and support from United Way of Beaufort County, the organization’s work for the I/DD community can take a variety of forms: events and outings, training parents to advocate for necessary services and supports, providing tutoring, helping to secure jobs and rides to work or helping people move into an apartment on their own — all things that will help those with I/DD with a primary goal: to be an accepted, functional part of the community. Sometimes it could mean speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about legislation affecting those with I/DD. Other times, it might be making sure those with I/DD are remembered with a gift on Christmas Day.

“We advocate for those people whether they are members or not. While our membership is 100-plus, the people we serve directly may be less than 100, but the people we affect — I don’t know what that number is,” Warren said. “When an issue becomes paramount that the General Assembly needs to know how what they are considering would affect people with disabilities, we’re lobbying. … If the bill goes in our direction, there’s no telling how many people we’ve affected across the state.”

“Arc with a Spark” is the first fundraiser of its type held by Arc of Beaufort County, and the money it raises will go to support all of the Arc’s efforts to support the I/DD community.

“We want to have funds to be able to help those persons live a better life where they can, not only on an ongoing basis, but on an as-needs basis,” Warren said.

The event will be held from 7 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Cost is $25 per person. Those interested in purchasing tickets can contact Tracy Warren at 336-705-3021 or Sandra Buckman, the Arc of Beaufort County executive director, at 252-945-4414. Fox Hollow Farm is located at 2949 Corsica Road, Washington.