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CE Through the Years

Community Enterprises' history is filled with people dedicated to providing services and advocating for those who were unable, and often not allowed, to advocate for themselves. Our story is intertwined with progress in the disability movement both state and nationwide. These roots go back over 70 years to a small group of visionary parents that wanted a better life for their children. 

By Looking back, we can continue forging the path ahead that our founders laid out for us.


Twenty parents of children at the Lapeer State Home and Training School met in Port Huron to share their concerns, problems and hopes for their children with developmental disabilities. This group came from humble beginnings and were able to lay the foundation for what Community Enterprises would eventually become.



-Lapeer Parents of the Blue Water District is incorporated, the first official name of Community Enterprises


-The group is chartered as the St. Clair County ARC,  which is our second official name

-Gardendale School is established with 28 students


-Special Education granted reimbursable expenditures

-Port Huron Area School District established two elementary school rooms in Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson Schools


-St. Clair County residents, with direct advocacy efforts from the ARC, pass one of the first special education millages in the state


-This millage paves the way for two classrooms dedicated to educating children with disabilities at McKinley School



-Judge Halford I. Streeter and Mr. Walter Wyeth purchase Krafft Rd. School and donate it to the ARC

-Judge Streeter, Director of Michigan ARC, applies for Charter of St. Clair County ARC


-Civil Rights Act Passed, mainstream in classrooms had to be provided and attitudes had to be changed


-P.A. 54 passed, creating Community Mental Health Boards


-The ARC sponsors the opening of Blue Water Opportunity Center (BWOC) and MR/DD Sheltered Workshop in Port Huron

-The ARC starts participating in the National Special Olympics


-St. Clair County Community Mental Health Board officially begins


We started to see progress in the disability movement, and some real change. With the passing of the Civil Rights Act, special education services in mainstream schools paved the way for attitude changes towards those with disabilities. The ARC was also a part of opening Michigan’s first state-supported Day Care Center for children with disabilities, began competing in the Special Olympics, and started two new ventures in the recreational and vocational fields. With the creation of the St. Clair County Community Health Board, meaningful change was on the horizon.


Perhaps the most significant progress was made during this decade, with the start of many beloved traditions as well as the hiring of some extremely influential individuals that would carve a purposeful path into the future. CMH would see the hiring of their first Director, and this would begin a partnership that still exists today. Between annual fundraisers, far reaching support from local organizations such as WAMR, Knights of Columbus, Rotary and Lions Clubs, as well as the Women’s Auxiliary, and huge reforms in the education landscape we saw considerable growth in both advocacy and services provided to those with disabilities. We also witnessed the beginning of what we know today as our “Arena”, on top of the start of deinstitutionalization across the state and country that was instrumental in allowing those with disabilities to prosper.



-First CMH Day treatment center opens, Life Consultation Center (LCC)

-First Annual Spring Ball is held


-Ron Kivel is hired as ARC Director

-Dr. Charles Hoyt is hired as CMH’s first Director

-ARC Bingo is formed


-Woodland Development Center opens

-ARC becomes a charter member of the newly incorporated Blue Water Housing Organization


-“The Arena” at 1033 26th St., which is our current location, is officially dedicated


-River District Skill Development Center opens in the basement of a Methodist Church in St. Clair

-On Christmas Eve of this year the Adult Activity Center on Military St. in Port Huron burned


-The ARC built the work component hall at 1033 26th St., and this building was expanded in succeeding years to accommodate work and basic education programs

-St. Clair County CMH aggressively pursues deinstitutionalization, and the ARC builds the first local 6 bed group home under state guidelines, now known as Simpson Home

-CMH with matching funds from the ARC opens the first two CMH supported 6 bed group homes on 10th St. in Port Huron and Springborn in Marine City

-Morton School in Marysville and Algonac School District sites open to offer skill building options to those with disabilities



-The ARC develops and enacts a Car Seat Rental Program, which saw over 250 car seats rented in its duration


-Work Activity Program receives its first CARF Accreditation


-Morton School expands services to include Port Huron Activity Center and Kraft Rd. School, which closes


-Pop Shop on 11th Ave in Port Huron opens and is operated by ARC workers


-Arc participated in one of the first community work projects in the state: Supported Employment (Later Community Employment Program)

-Pre-Voc Program is established


-Marysville Life Skills program (formerly Pre-Voc) is established, with consumers splitting their day between that and the Work Activity Program

-Advocacy Leadership Training Program is established in collaboration with Blue Water Center for Independent Living, RICC and Developmental Disabilities Council


Skill building, recreational and employment services started to move to the forefront for our organization during this time period. The ARC started to focus on all citizens instead of just children during this decade, and even more social reforms led the way for substantial change. The start of our supported employment program, one of the first in the state, began our journey of employing well over 600 individuals with disabilities to date.


Advocacy and program growth dominated the 90’s as we saw our Arena expand, we dedicated our River District building, and made work opportunities available in Marine City and Algonac for the first time. The passing of the Americans with Disability Act paved the way for equality and a brighter future for those we serve. The ARC went through a much-needed official name change largely in response to the expressed wishes and self-advocacy of participants who did not like the stigma associated with the “R” word. All the while continuing its efforts to better the community for all with more recreation opportunities along with focusing on voting rights.



-Marysville Life Skills moves to newly constructed classrooms next to the Work Activity Program at the ARC Arena

-Community Activities increased with a newly purchased YMCA membership

-Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was enacted


-Michigan Rehabilitation Target Grants fund a 3-year project on employment for those with a disability and to create natural supports in the workplace


-The Advocacy service was formally implemented and began working with voter registration, party debates and investigating ADA access to polling sites

-The ARC was instrumental in getting 9 new fully accessible playgrounds being built in Port Huron

-The ARC was awarded government contracts making metallic seals for the Defense Department as well as plastic pails for General Services Administration


-The ARC became The Arc of St. Clair County, dropping the “R” word, moving to a simple “Arc” indicating the connecting of things, such as a bridge to the future

-The Arc participated in the Community supported Living Arrangements Project, serving 30 consumers


-Morton School closes, and 55 people are moved to the Arc programs


-River District Skill Development Program is established at 1000 Degurse St. in Marine City through the efforts of Pastor Ted Klein, Oscar Durst and the Community Foundation


-Work opportunities made available for the first time on a consistent basis for Marine City and Algonac participants

-This was a peak year for generating employment opportunities, 79 persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness worked in the community with supports


-The Arc organized and held a series of seminars to discuss Person-Centered Planning and the Michigan Managed Care plan for Specialty Services proposal by senators Hammerstrom and Johnston


-The Arc held its first Annual Golf Outing, Sharon Adams at the helm with the help of Butch and Judy Hills, Cawood Auto, Gary Fletcher, Blue Water Transportation, Birchwood Athletic Club and numerous anonymous donors



-“Home of Your Own” lifestyle came to St. Clair County, and the Arc led this project with two families


-Arc signs an agreement to promote the mission, core values, position statements and responsibilities of The Arc of the United States

-The Ramp Project is established

-Arc members advocate for public transportation in Marysville


-The Arc successfully lobbied for expanded transportation throughout St. Clair County for those with disabilities


-80% of those working on community jobs were earning minimum wage or better


-The Arc Board of Directors adopted the agency’s first comprehensive Strategic Plan

-The “Choosing a Life in the Community” model was developed and implemented to promote greater freedom of expression and participation


-The Arc withdrew as a provider of Supported living services due to insufficient funding

-A proposal is submitted to St. Clair County Community Mental Health Authority to become a Fiscal Intermediary


-The Arc of St. Clair County Membership, at the behest of the State and National Arc, vote to permanently and completely separate advocacy services from day program services


-Blue Water Secure Shredding is founded, providing employment to 41 individuals with disabilities


The new millennium brought with it vast changes for the living arrangements for consumers in St. Clair County. The Arc was at the forefront for the “Home of Your Own” movement, which allowed those with developmental disabilities to live independently in their own homes with caregiver supports. Along with the housing initiatives, the Arc spearheaded the push for voting rights and assisting individuals with registration, as well as public transportation concerns. This was also the time that our work projects really started to take off, with the start of our Ramp Project which built well over 70 ramps throughout its existence. We would then see the start of Blue Water Secure Shredding, another business venture that would employ hundreds of individuals with disabilities and is still operational today.


Substantial changes occurred during this decade that set our organization on the exciting journey we are currently traveling. This would be the era that Community Enterprises was officially born, as we would separate from The Arc and embark on a path as a brand-new private nonprofit. The Arc would hold onto advocacy duties, and CE would take over programming services. This daunting but exciting venture would set our organization on a trajectory of progress and innovation.



-Blue Water Secure Shredding secures contracts with the IRS and Social Security Administration

-The final phase of the strategic plan to separate into two entities is put into place, with “Community Links of St. Clair County” being the first title for the new organization

-The T-Shop on Lapeer and Enriching Community Life Programs are established


-“Community Links” officially becomes Community Enterprises of St. Clair County


-The Arc officially sells all physical assets to Community Enterprises of St. Clair County, including “The Arena” and the River District location


-Cycle Point, electronics recycling business is started as a new venture of employment


-The Arc/Community Enterprises longest serving Executive Director, James Fortushniak, Retires with Mychal Fearncombe as his successor


-CE’s first annual Field Day was held, with almost 200 consumers took to the field (or parking lot) to race, balance, toss and kick their way through multiple events



-For the first time since its inception nearly 70 years ago, Community Enterprises is forced to close its doors to consumers due to the Covid-19 pandemic


-CE reopens to consumers, with daily attendance ¼ of pre-pandemic levels; Cycle Point is officially discontinued due to lack of business

-In December, Scott Shine is named the 7th Executive Director in the history of the organization

-“The Arena” reopens to consumers for the first time since the ECL program moved to Marysville more than 5 years prior


-CE launches an aggressive plan to meet the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in St. Clair County

-Day Program participation grows by more than 150% over the course of 18 months

-A full scale rebranding occurs, including a new logo and colors

-Renovations begin on the 1033 26th St. location


-The first May Ball since the pandemic began is held at Solitude Links Golf & Banquet Center

-To meet the increase in demand for services, CE hires more than 30 new staff since reopening from the pandemic


Much like the history of our organization, CE battled many challenges and much adversity during this time period. From leadership and organizational priority changes, to facing an unprecedented global pandemic, we have weathered each opportunity presented to us, taking inspiration from the very people we serve who face daily barriers most of us will never understand. In recent years we have achieved exceptional growth, redevelopment and a renewed sense of purpose. We are fully committed to evolving, improving and raising the standards of what we all can be.

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