The History of TARC
As parents of an individual with intellectual disabilities, Jeffrey and Nellie Guidry changed lives and created what is now known as TARC. Their daughter, Diana, developed a very high fever which was uncontrollable and resulted in damage to her brain. Doctors had no hope that she would recover. According to Mr. Guidry, he says that “with God’s help and a loving mother, she slowly recovered to a degree of walking, communication, and was able to do a few things.” However, she was not able to attend a “regular” school.
During this time, Mr. Guidry went to work for an insurance company which allowed him to meet many people in their homes in Terrebonne Parish. He met many families with children with developmental disabilities. He said, “Parents hid them from strangers or put them in institutions.”
After this particular incident, Jeffrey and Nellie decided to locate other families and organize “some form of a special school” to help train people with intellectual disabilities. They pleaded to various civic clubs in the community and approached the local School Board. With much dedication and hard work, a classroom was made available at Terrebonne Elementary School in 1953. Mrs. Yvonne Pellegrin was selected as the first instructor of a class of 8 students. This class was one of the first in the state, as well as the first in Terrebonne Parish.
Nellie became the first president of the Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens from 1952 to 1954. During this time, Jeffrey received a promotion in Lafayette, and the Guidry family moved and became instrumental in helping the ARC in their new town.
In 1960, TARC fell upon bad times and was abandoned, but was revived by a pioneering group of parents and teachers. In 1962, $5,000 was raised by the group of parents and teachers, and the Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens was formed as a non-profit Louisiana corporation.
State laws were enacted in 1963 requiring local boards to accommodate people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in the public school system. Terrebonne’s school system decided to allow TARC to provide this service because of its experience and success. One year later, TARC rented and renovated a house on Goode Street and moved in with three students, then grew to two classes as Wonderland Day Care Center, the first TARC School. Wonderland later moved to East Main Street.
In 1966, Wonderland moved to what was then known as the Tri-T building adjacent to the Municipal Auditorium where the program expanded to four classes and the first bus was purchased to transport students.
TARC became affiliated with the ARC of Louisiana and ARC of the United States in 1967. Due to a greater need than anticipated, TARC turned its attention to South Terrebonne and founded Bayou Day Care Center at Montegut and Grand Caillou.
One of the most monumental decisions in Terrebonne Parish was when the Parish Council added funding for TARC through a millage tax. In 1968, TARC acquired the millage from the parish to administer to the health and educational requirement of individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in Terrebonne Parish.
TARC then obtained the Houma Air Force Radar site at Number One McCord Road to become the campus in 1972. The following year, the Houma Air Force Radar Site was dedicated to TARC. All TARC classrooms were consolidated at the new campus. In 1974, Wonderland changed its name from Day Care Center to Wonderland Development Center. At this time, TARC changed its name to the Terrebonne Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc (TARC).
In 1975, a Louisiana residential care license was approved. In addition, a grant application was made to the Department of Health Education and Welfare, and TARC built its first sheltered workshop as well as the cafeteria.
The Bayou Day Care Center in Montegut was closed in 1979, and individuals were moved to the campus on McCord Road. The greenhouse was opened. In 1982, the playground and Music Hall/Chapel was constructed as well the TARC Restaurant. In 1986, the Independent Apartment Living Program began.
In 1992, the Terrebonne Parish School Board separated school services from TARC’s vocational services due to funding changes at the State and Federal level.
TARC held its first annual Christmas Wonderland in 1995.
In 2000, a tornado hit TARC’s campus destroying the greenhouses, damaging administrative offices, and other buildings. During the same year, TARC opened the Sunshine Express Early Care and Education Center.
TARC celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2002.
In 2003, TARC received a 3-year International Accreditation from CARF (Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). This was a high honor for TARC.
In 2006, TARC reapplied for accreditation and received another 3-year CARF certification.
2007- TARC’s millage is renewed by 85% support. Mary Lynn Bisland is named Executive Director. New business ideas and names were trademarked, which are: Bayou Packers, Bayouland Yard Krewe, Cajun Crate Company, The Cedar Chest Boutique, Houma Grown, La Maison D’Art, Lagniappe Cleaning Company, Le Bon Temps Bakery, and Creative Employment Opportunities. TARC created its first social club called “Let’s Get Together”. TARC opened Le Bon Temps Bakery and makes homemade cakes and pastries. Professional business uniforms added to each TARC department.
2008- Grand opening of Creative Employment Opportunities and Cedar Chest Boutique on Main Street. An activity center in Unit #19 for day habilitation participants and staff was created. A new business Buy U Beads developed out of Bayou Packers to package, sort and sell Mardi Gras beads. TARC updated the mission statement to read “TARC is committed to securing for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a meaningful life”. TARC now uses intellectual disability not mental retardation. Qualified Mental Retardation Professionals (QMRP’s) are now called Qualified Developmental Disability Professionals (QDDP’s). The first Martin Luther King march event was held for TARC staff and clients. The first formal dance sponsored by TARC and the LGT club was held at the Woodmen of the World hall. Construction started on the new community home “Lillian Marie Community Home”. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike threatens Terrebonne Parish and clients were evacuated to West Monroe. A citrus grove which included a variety of different kinds of fruity trees were planted on TARC grounds. TARC started a compost bin. Sweet Sensations added a chocolate enrober machine and cooler to increase production. Paula Lapeyrouse visits the White House at Christmas to view the ornament she designed on the White House Christmas tree.
2009- TARC opened the following businesses: Grand Designs, a screen printing business and the Hen House, a fresh yard egg business. Worm tea bag fertilizer, a worm composting product, was created for the TARC merchandising line maintained by Houma Grown. TARC reapplies for accreditation and receives another 3-year CARF certification. Day habilitation was renamed “Options Plus”. The Cajun Crate Company moved its operation to Weatherford Manufacturing on Hwy. 311. The Cedar Chest Boutique’s processing unit moved to Unit 11 due to the high volume of increased donations. Buy-U Beads became its own business due to increased donations of Mardi Gras beads. Through a CONOCO-PHILIPS grant, TARC incorporated accessible raised beds for Houma Grown workers for people in wheelchairs.
2010- TARC partnered with La-Terre Master Gardeners to host the Bonne Terre Garden Fair in April. The Lillian Marie Community Home became occupied by six men from TARC. La Maison d’art began making slumped bottles that were added to the TARC merchandising line. “Bayou Packers” began making “Rag Bags”. Sweet Sensations was renamed Cajun Confections. Houma Grown Farmer’s Market was opened to the public.
2011- TARC partnered with the Houma Visitor and Convention Bureau and started tourism tours. The first annual TARC’S Garden and Market Festival was held in May. A new TARC product, Garden Marbles, was added to the TARC merchandise line. Le Bon Temps Bakery was renamed Cajun Confections Bakery.
2012- TARC celebrated 50 years of incorporation by changing it’s corporate name to Terrebonne Arc. TARC held an Anniversary event commemorating the staff and clients on March 21, the day of incorporation. TARC reapplied for accreditation and received another 3-year CARF certification. TARC opened Grand Designs at a location off campus on Grand Calliou due to a high volume of sales and easy access for customers. TARC implemented its first Bead Donation Truck at the end of Houma’s Mardi Gras parades to collect beads for TARC’s Buy-U Beads business.
2013- TARC opened a second Cedar Chest Boutique on Grand Calliou Road. TARC closed Sunshine Express Early Care and Education Center.