Inmates help Arc
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent October 8, 2012 4:28PM
Inmates with the Lake County Sheriff Department's work-release program do landscaping work at The Arc Northwest Indiana in Gary. | Photo provided
Updated: November 10, 2012 6:06AM
Clients, staff and administrators at The Arc Northwest Indiana have a scenic view as they enter and exit the group’s headquarters at 2650 and 2660 W. 35th Ave. in Gary, thanks to a continuing cleanup effort by the Lake County Sheriff’s work-release program.
The Arc provides jobs and housing for people with developmental disabilities, plus a variety of support services for clients and their families. The Arc operates 23 group homes, with affiliates in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.
During summer, work-release inmates arrived at The Arc and removed overgrown weeds and debris on the property.
The most noticeable cleanup is west of The Arc’s recreational and work facility at 2660 W. 35th Ave. A fenced-in area with a man-made pond was hidden behind bushes and weeds. Since the cleanup started in mid-July, it has become visible to all who park nearby or enter the building.
“In the beginning, we had various volunteers come and clear a path to the pond, and I decided to call the Sheriff’s Department to see if we could benefit from their work-release program,” said Deborah Deaton, development director for The Arc.
Deaton spoke to John Oakley, the work-release program director, who made arrangements to bring workers to The Arc.
“We do a lot of work in Gary, so it was a matter of scheduling days to come to (The Arc),” Oakley said. “We had about six inmates when we arrived, and they love going there.”
Oakley said some of the inmates know a lot about gardening, weeding and farming, and take pride in cleaning up the property around the pond. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said the inmates also donate fruits and vegetables grown and picked from the program’s garden in Crown Point.
“Peppers, tomatoes, all types of vegetables are donated,” Buncich said. “(The inmates) feel a sense of community service and pride.”