Siloam Springs Facility Gives Special Needs Arkansans Independence

SILOAM SPRINGS, AR (KNWA) - For almost 40 years the Adult Development Center in Siloam Springs has been helping Arkansans with special needs. 

Just like the rest of Northwest Arkansas, the center is growing, and they are hoping to expand the program to help anyone with a disability. 

Employees at the Adult Development Center are happy to come to work everyday. For Larry Hamilton, it's a source of pride as well as income. 

"What can you say, it's nice to make a good paycheck. It's nice to get some money in your pocket, go home and you can feel happy about that, and knowing that you did something right," he says.

Kolin Blakely, director of the program, believes his program expects a lot from the employees, but it's all to build independence. 

"I don't want to just baby-sit these people. I don't wanna just do things for them. I want them to get to work on their own. I want them to be able to provide their food for the day, just like any other job," says Blakely. "I think there's a lot of facilities out there, there's such a routine, that they don't allow the individual to be independent, and do things on their own." 

Partnering with John Brown University in Siloam Springs, the center hopes to become more self sufficient, as well as open new job opportunities by starting a paper shredding company. 

In addition, the center is waiting to apply with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services, to be able to accept more people with disabilities.

"One of my big goals here is not always rely on State and Federal grants, I wanna be more self-sufficient, and the only way to do that is to have a product that we do on our own," Blakely says.

For employee Bobby Sue Whitlock, the program isn't just a job, but an achievement. 

"At the end of the day, I feel so good about myself, cause I've accomplished so many things just day," she says. 

Her brother, Andrew Whitlock, feels the same way. 

"We got a place to go to work and make money. Like a lot of people, they don't have jobs, and we're fortunate that we do," he says.

Blakely invites everyone to check out the Siloam Springs facility. 

"Although we've been here 40 years, there's still a lot of people that don't know what we do, and I invite anybody to come down here, you don't have to make an appointment," he says.

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