From these humble beginnings, PARC has grown to be known as a progressive leader in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. With over 40 programs, PARC offers many choices to the individuals it serves. We invite you to explore our rich history and rapid growth, made possible by the generosity of those in our community and beyond.
Mrs. Edythe Ibold placed a small notice in The Evening Independent inviting parents of children with developmental disabilities to a meeting in the St. Petersburg City Hall.
Pinellas Association for Retarded Children received its Corporate Charter. Edythe Ibold named First President of the Board of Directors and a Charter Member.
The first group of concerned parents that formed PARC successfully opened The Peter Pan School. The school operated out of Hiatt Hall in St. Petersburg and then a private home in Gulfport with a teacher furnished by the School Board, transportation provided by the Red Cross and volunteers provided by the Junior Women’s Club.
The Peter Pan School moves to a new building in Pinellas Park next to the Parkland Exceptional Student Education Center. Bert Muller is President of the PARC Board of Directors from 1962-63.
PARC opened PARC Resale Store to help bring in donations for the agency.
Bert Muller named the first Executive Director of the Peter Pan School. [Executive Director role is now termed President and CEO position at PARC; Board President is now termed Chairperson.]
On October 16, 1964, LARC – the heart of PARC, is founded to support the children and adults at PARC. They started fundraising efforts throughout the city.
The Peter Pan School building is sold to the Pinellas County School Board and PARC moved the preschool program to St. Lukes Methodist church and Palm Lake Christian Church temporarily while the Board of Directors tried to secure land for new headquarters. The four-member administrative staff occupied donated offices in the Security Federal Building in downtown St. Petersburg.
Carol Holland, the Chairperson of the PARC Board of Directors from 1964 to 1966, secured 6 acres of land through the City Council at what is now PARC’s main campus near Tyrone Boulevard. PARC purchased the original 6 acres for $21,000 and took an option on the remaining acres available.
PARC signed a $100,000 mortgage to build a PARC Campus which included the preschool, PARC Cottage children’s residential program, kitchen and dining room, conference room and administrative offices.
PARC’s development of a sheltered employment program for adults begins. Program was originally located at 2150 22nd Avenue South.
PARC’s First Annual Black Tie Gala is held at the home of Brenda and Sam Rahall.
PARC Cottage residential program begins, and 15 children aged 2 to 13 called the main campus their home.
Development Activity Program (now known as Life Skills Training) moved to a new campus.
Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy begin at preschool.
Development Activity Program expanded to include Arts and Crafts program (formerly located off-site) alongside the sheltered employment program. PARC undergoes expansion for new day services.
PARC leased a two story, dormitory style building at 1051 72nd Street North for the purpose of providing a residential setting for adults over age 18. PARC Villa was one of the first integrated community residential programs of its kind in Florida. PARC Villa had forty adult men and women in a transitional living experience which allowed hundreds of people to move from institutions back to their home community. This is considered the beginning of state support for local residential care programs.
Mrs. Rose Kennedy tours the PARC Campus and enjoys what PARC is accomplishing.
Clifton and Dorothy Weil donate $50,000 and a new 10,000 square foot building becomes the expanded Sheltered Workshop Program. The building is named Weil Habilitation Center.
A Division of Vocational Rehabilitation grant secured for the workshop.
Through the Adult Education and Community Schools Department, a division of the Pinellas County School System, PARC offered adult basic education to the Weil Habilitation Center participants.
PARC’s First Annual Golf Tournament is held at the Bardmoor Golf Course for all to enjoy.
PARC formed the State Association for Private Residential Facilities for the Mentally Retarded. Bert Muller, who served as a Charter Member of the National Association for Private Residential Facilities for the Mentally Retarded, was elected the first state President.
PARC Housing Inc. formed to develop and oversee the project management of a HUD home, which served as one of several national prototype facilities for its design and encouragement of alternative community residential facilities. The residence would be built through an $800,000 low interest federal loan. Congressman C.W Bill Young helped PARC through this process.
A historical moment, the PARC Center Apartments opened in October 1979 for 48 adults.
PARC provides progressive services for individuals in community living and job placement.
Curry Villa opened in November 1982 for 30 adults formerly at PARC Villa’s leased building. Mack and Chris Curry made the donation in memory of his parents George B. and Agnes Curry.
The Edith B. Smith building opened in April 1984 next to PARC Center Apartments for PCA Management staff and new conference area. This 2,400 square foot building was possible through donation by Edith B. Smith, a dedicated and long serving volunteer.
PARC formerly began a new service called Supported Employment with commitment from the state to fund individuals for long term community job coaching services.
PARC Cottages moved into two new cottages covering 4,000 square feet for 16 children 5-15 years old. Now, PARC Cottages serves children and adults. Many of the children call PARC their home and are now grown.
Burkett Villa opened on February 15, 1991 for 15 adults. The donated 10 acres of land is developed in a small area to add the 4th residential program for PARC.
Bert Muller retired from PARC
Curt Thomas named President & CEO of PARC.
Contract started with Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC), which provides services for medically fragile children, on the PARC Campus.
PARC received in charitable trust a building located at 3190 Tyrone Boulevard. Administration offices and Seniors Program move to new location.
Children’s Services expanded to include new Assistive Technology Center and larger physical therapy area and early intervention center at PARC’s preschool, now named Discovery Learning Center. Artist John Gutcher paints a rainforest theme throughout the school for the enjoyment of the children.
Children’s Services expanded to include the Family Focus Program that serves children and their families in the home or in their preferred school with early intervention services.
PARC Center Apartments renamed The Bert Muller Home to honor the memory of his commitment to individuals with developmental disabilities.
PARC collaborates with John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Pinellas County Schools and Florida Vocational Rehabilitation to offer the Project Search program for students ages 18- 22 whose goal is competitive employment.
PARC was the first ever recipient of the Sun Trust Foundation “Lighting the Way”; the $50,000 award helps create the PARCSun Store, which is run entirely by PARC clients.
PARC unveils the Play it Safe Park for students at the Discovery Learning Center. Student capacity at the Discover Center increases 54% thanks to a large grant from the Juvenile Welfare
March: Covid-19 impacts all PARC services. Life Skill Development, Adult Community programs and all Children’s Services quickly pivot to online and virtual programs. Residential Programs operate with safety restrictions thanks to our dedicated frontline staff; and with restrictions on outside activities such as field trips and outside guests. PARC’s Community Supports division continues providing services to our adults in Supported Living/Supported Employment following all CDC safety guidelines.
Fall/Winter: PARC gradually re-opens Life Skills Development re-opens at 50% capacity. Our Discovery Learning Center starts the 202-2021 school year following health and safety guidelines. Respite Services, Family Focus and Onsite Therapy also re-open through a combination of virtual and in-person services.
Our 5K Run and Signature Black-Tie event are both conducted virtually with huge success.
Winter/spring – Vaccines are made available to all PARC residents and clients.
September – Karen Higgins retires from PARC. Michelle Detweiler appointed new President & CEO.
September – Our annual Golf Tournament and Friday Night party is held in person following all Covid-19 safety protocols.
November – Covid-19 Booster shots available to all PARC clients
52nd Annual Black Tie Gala returns to an in-person event, February 5th at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.