Hendricks County, a rural setting on the West side of Indianapolis, was a quiet community in 1958. Large farms and small community groupings sometimes kept neighbors at a distance, but not for long. There were a few families living in the area who had children with special needs. They sought to fill those needs through local schools but were unsuccessful. Children with developmental delays or physical impairments could not be served in regular classes because teachers and accommodations were not available. But, these families were intent on having their children live as normally as possible within their small communities.
These families found each other as they searched for the same educational setting for their sons and daughters. The Crises, the Owens and the Wheelers became friends and supported each other and their children. They knew it would be easier to effect change in Hendricks County with a group of advocates, rather than an individual family. They began by having monthly meetings in a room of the Court House. They would discuss the type of services needed most by their children and where to obtain it. They formalized the group by naming themselves as officers, and in September of 1959, they opened their meeting to all residents of Hendricks County to determine the best way to access education for children with special needs. Their persistence finally made an impression on the local school board and before the end of the year, special classes were added to the local curriculum.
In 1961, this small group had grown and decided to incorporate themselves as Hendricks County Association for Retarded Children. With their growth in size, came growth in knowledge. They became aware of what was available to children in other counties and wanted the same things for Hendricks County children. As a group they approached local business and organizations and asked for funds that would be used to build a school of their own. In August of 1962, there were 14 children attending a class at the Danville Christian Church. In November of that year, a fund drive was initiated to collect $10,000 to build a 2 room building at 405 Lincoln Street to house the Hendricks County Association. Contributions were supplemented with funds from candy and cookie sales through the month of November. At the end of the month, Mrs. Moran, then the Executive Director, announced they had collected $12,627, along with donated materials and equipment.
The HCARC maintained their connections in the community. Members of local clubs and civic groups volunteered to assist with the growing number of children and teen-agers. The Jaycees and Homemakers Club became regular contributors which assisted with the expenses of the continually growing organization.
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