Nonprofit reaccredited


A private nonprofit in Kealakekua helping people with disabilities was awarded again the highest level of certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities International.

Since 2000, The Arc of Kona has earned the maximum three-year accreditation — a mark of excellence and a public seal of trust — for quality based on stringent, internationally accepted service standards, said President and CEO Gretchen Lawson.

Lawson called accreditation “a very important achievement,” that demonstrates the nonprofit’s commitment to delivering quality services, enhancing performance, and improving efficiency.

The distinction “makes it easier for funders to acknowledge the worthiness of investing in our organization,” she said.

Accreditation began in March, with the updating of Arc of Kona’s strategic plan.

In May, the board of directors analyzed the comments and completed the strategic plan, Lawson said.

At the end of June, an application for accreditation was sent to the commission.

A team of surveyors visited Arc of Kona in November, measuring the nonprofit in 869 administrative and program standards, Lawson said.

Surveyors touted Arc of Kona’s “highly dedicated staff members who ... ensure service delivery regardless of position or service,” its long-term relationships with businesses and community members, and the valuable services it provides.

Surveyors called the organization’s commitment to assisting participants in finding and maintaining employment commendable.

Other accomplishments included comprehensive orientation training and education for employees, support in rural areas, a well-maintained group home and a community inclusion service that’s “always searching for new ways to have the participants more involved in the surrounding area.”

Created 50 years ago, The Arc of Kona serves nearly 170 people with disabilities islandwide, helping them achieve the fullest possible independence and participation in society according to their wishes.

Its work also impacts clients’ families, their advocates and community. Services offered include vocational and job training; classroom-based therapeutic skills building; job placement and retention; personal assistance; independent living in Ocean View; a group home in Captain Cook; and training and consultation for support teams. There are 108 employees — 27 of them full-time, Lawson said.

The Arc of Kona’s annual budget is approximately $3.2 million, of which about 82 percent is state, county and Medicaid funding; 17 percent comes from foundations; and 1 percent is from donors, Lawson said.

The Arc of Kona is seeking funding to construct a wheelchair ramp and make the driveway accessible at its Ka‘u Activity/Service Center, created in 2008 when the nonprofit received a donation of two Ocean View homes.

Another goal the nonprofit is working toward is reaching out to and helping veterans with disabilities.

Arc of Kona is a certified Employment Network, meaning it accepts Social Security beneficiaries who want to return to work without charge.

Lawson has been meeting with various military organizations, hoping to connect with interested disabled veterans.

For more information, call 323-2626 or visit arcofkona.org.