Mark SchinnererWork opportunities are plentiful at CARC in Carlsbad, N.M., which features intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In total, the organization serves 100 adults. Most live in group home facilities; some live in the community and come out for day services, the most popular being employment.
 
CARC features settings for individuals to learn and hone skills in horticulture, pecan harvesting, and document management. The campus includes several greenhouses where individuals can learn how to grow plants and sell them in a retail setting, a pecan processing plant and orchard where growing and harvesting take place (over 6,000 pounds were harvested recently), and a document destruction site used to carry out secure document shredding for contracted clients.

Other services such as cleaning and flower planter care for community businesses are also available for employment.

“This is a work services program, so folks can learn skills, interact with the community, and get a paycheck—that’s the biggest day around here,” says Mark Schinnerer, chief executive officer at CARC. “I hear a lot of talk about it. They know when pay day is, just like you and I do, and they are excited to get their paycheck.” Most of them like to go to the bank or shopping, he says. While the campus provides meals, many individuals enjoy going out to eat and to the movies.

“It’s just life,” says Schinnerer. “As adults, we identify ourselves by what we do, and we know we should have a job. That’s how they see their lives. Some folks choose not to work, and that’s okay. But most do want to have a job and find an opportunity that’s right for them.”

Something to Look Forward To

Social life is upbeat, with many events taking place during the year, says Schinnerer.

“We go to parades, we participate in the Relay for Life, we have the biggest team there,” he says. Individuals also participate in the Special Olympics, and a second-hand thrift store is run on-site by volunteers.

With an on-site community pool, locals in the area often come in to take part in water therapy. There is also a child day care location on-site where 40 children are enrolled.

“It’s really no different than a senior living community where multiple services are on-site,” says Schinnerer. “We spend a lot of time just helping them have an eventful day and something to look forward to.”