Post Date:August 23, 2018 9:37 AM

Parish President Larry Cochran spoke at the Arc of St. Charles' Board Installation and Annual Membership Reception on August 21 in Boutte. Below is the text of his speech:

"I would like to thank the Board of Directors and staff for inviting me here today. I am truly honored to be the guest speaker.

Just recently, I was able to attend the Upstart Career Exploration Camp Celebration and participate in the career tour.

For those of you who don’t know… Robin, my executive secretary, hosted a group from the Arc at the courthouse. They were able to walk around with her and visit the different departments of government to see what our parish workers do day in and day out.

It was a privilege to watch their faces light up while meeting my staff. And as your Parish President, I was proud to see how our parish workers embraced each and every one on the tour. It was truly touching to see.

When I was asked to speak today, I reflected on those experiences which made me realize just how far the Arc has grown over the years. It wasn’t until 1982 that the Arc was able to serve the east and west bank, receiving funding from partnerships with organizations like the United Way.

I mention that partnership because I know the United Way of St. Charles has worked closely with the Arc over the years. Their slogan "Live United" is exactly what our community and the Arc represent. A community of individuals living united despite disabilities and hardships, working together to make our home great.

I remember hearing how the West St. Charles Women’s Club and the School Board worked together to form the Arc of St. Charles. At that time, the organization was only able to serve a handful of families. This organization went from serving a handful of people to serving at least 175 individuals with special needs and employing a full-time staff. This organization did all of that without receiving any tax dollars. It wasn’t until 2015 when the ad valorem tax was passed making it possible for the Arc to receive the funds it so desperately deserved.

Since the tax was passed, the Arc has started and added to its existing enterprises. The organization has been a good steward of its tax dollars and has given back to our community through the Cajun Village Thrift Store, Throw me Something Mister, Mardi Gras bead store, the Cutting-Edge Lawn Services and more.

I think The Arc’s success was made possible because of two things. First, resilience... the resilience I saw in the faces of those I met on that career tour. The same resilience seen in the loved ones of individuals with disabilities and special needs. It’s you all here, the families, and the volunteers that work so hard to ensure that your loved ones are able to reach their full potential. Secondly, it was made possible through community. We are so fortunate to live and work in St. Charles Parish. Our community is like no other. When our neighbors are in need we show up and make sure they are taken care of. I have seen it countless times as Parish President and even saw it when I served on the council. Giving back and helping our community is our culture here. I mentioned partnerships a lot today. The Women’s club and school board helping the Arc in its infancy. The Arc and the United Way and then our own partnership: parish government and the Arc with the courthouse tour. I focus on that because I want you to understand how vital partnerships are to our community. It is partnerships like these that make our community what it is.

I want to leave you with a challenge. I want to challenge you to get involved with the Arc if you are not and if you are get your family and friends involved. If you are a stakeholder in the community, I challenge you to be more vigilant in creating opportunities for those with disabilities. 
It is so unbelievably rewarding to watch individuals thriving and knowing they are reaching their full potential- I experienced that during my time working with the Arc. Which is why I feel honor to be here today. Thank you for all that you do for our Parish I am humbled and proud."

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