ARC working with PDS to provide needed services to county

  By Greg Miller
  star staff
  gmiller@starhq.com
  Pride Developmental Services, Inc. (PDS) is now among the non-profit groups working with ARC of Carter County to provide services for those who are mentally disabled or with associated disabilities.
  Lee Qualls, president of PDS, says that Teena Bradley, vice president of the ARC of Carter County, "is helping us to reach out to families in the area that we're not aware of. She has really helped us to get to know people in this area.
  "We've already started services up here with one young lady with the Division of Rehabilitation Services," Qualls said.
  "We're going to try to help educate families through the ARC, that these services are out there and that they are entitled to them and they are available. We'll try to help guide them to the right resources to apply for those services."
  Qualls gives California an A+ for providing services to those with mental disabilities. "It's the only entitlement state in the union where consumers with mental disabilities get services no matter what...The state has to come up with the money," he said.
  Qualls gives Tennessee a much lower grade. "I would give Tennessee a D," he said. "I think Tennessee has a lot to learn about providing adequate and quality services to people with mental and physical disabilities.
  "There are great agencies out there, such as the ARC of Carter County and such as Pride Developmental Services, that are truly committed and who want to do good services, but we have to pay our bills. And when we're not funded adequately enough to adequately pay our bills, and the president of this company has to work a second full-time job just to pay the bills of the agency, that tells you there is something wrong with the funding."
  PDS, which came into existence on July 1, was originally started in California as Basic Occupational Training Centers, Inc. (BOTC). Two years after moving to Tennessee, BOTC felt that because of inadequate funding they were unable to continue to provide services, according to Qualls. "I went ahead and got my own non-profit status and took over the agency for them," he said.
  "I originally grew up in the Johnson City area through the foster care system, and I really wanted to come back to East Tennessee, my home, and provide services to the people that I owed so much to for helping me get where I am in life.
  "We're here, we want to do good services, and we want to make a difference in the community.
  "Our main goal here is to get the word out to parents about the resources and the agencies that are available to help them," said Teena Bradley, Vice President of the Arc of Carter County. "We're willing to bring in speakers, to provide workshop training. All this can be provided to children and adults. I think that one of our main goals is to let the community and other agencies know that we are willing to work together and we need to work together in order to achieve these goals.
  "Our relationship with the ARC is that we're trying to provide alternative services for families and children through the ARC than other agencies that are already existing in the area that are full."
  "I've always been interested in working with people with disabilities and handicaps, to help people that are less fortunate...I want to be able to help people, and to educate the community about what is available and how they can go about getting that," said Troy Moore, an administrative assistant with PDS.
  One of the rewards, Moore says, "is the feeling of knowing that I've helped someone who has been overlooked before and help the disabled to live a more productive life."
  PDS, which has offices both in Johnson City and Nashville, is funded through the Tennessee Division of Mental Retardation Services and the Division of Rehabilitation Services, said Qualls.
  In addition to PDS, ARC of Carter County is working with "I Pinky Promise," Cedar Grove Foundation, and Tennessee Voices for Children to let area residents know about available services.
  The ARC of Carter County was founded this year. "We're a 501 (C) 3 organization," said Bradley.
  For more information, call Bradley at 547-0517 or Qualls at 926-3810 or e-mail PDSINCTN@aol.com.