ARC  (Assistance & Resource Center) is an all-volunteer organization and works out of space donated by St. Bridget’s church. With 97-98% of dollars contributed  distributed to clients, they operate on very low expenses. If they can’t help, they refer patients to other resources, like The Salvation Army. In some cases, because they are locally controlled, ARC is able to provide more and/or different types of support to those in need.
Ronna Ellis has been with the Assistance & Resource Center (ARC) since it was formed. (Ted Marsh has also been involved since the beginning!)
Ronna is a “career volunteer,” fortunate to have been a stay-at-home mom raising kids in River Falls and, since 1980, in Hudson. Her oldest son struggled with addiction, so she was involved with the halfway house there, and also with Habitat for Humanity.
 
All of this has made her very grateful for the things in her life, and this is one reason she now serves as the client services coordinator for ARC. ARC was formed to help coordinate the work the congregations in River Falls were doing to support the needy; people are referred to ARC, which then “validates the need” and provides assistance. They now serve both River Falls and Ellsworth.
 
ARC is an all-volunteer organization and works out of space donated by St. Bridget’s. They have very limited expenses. 97-98% of dollars contributed are distributed to clients. If they can’t help, they refer patients to other resources, like The Salvation Army. In some cases, because they are locally controlled, ARC is able to provide more and/or different types of support to those in need.
 
They don’t have any guidelines for what they will provide; instead, they evaluate the need and see how they can help. As an example, a staff member from the River Falls School District recently called wondering about help with hearing aids; an individual from Ellsworth called looking for help purchasing orthotic shoes. ARC strives to be a “hand up,” so will support those going back to work with things like gas cards, work boots, etc.; a grandmother caring for a grandchild whose mother was in jail needed help paying for Kids’ Club.
 
Ronna acknowledged that ARC is often helping individuals who have made poor choices and are now trying to get back on the right path. They typically provide “matching” payments, so look to those receiving assistance to also contribute. Ronna also noted that they try to keep dollars local, so when they are paying for goods or services, they make every effort to purchase them from businesses here in River Falls. She thinks that this partnership is one of the reasons why ARC often secures services at prices below retail; local service providers often discount their services or provide in-kind support. Ronna said that she finds it amazing that clients often decline some of the support offered. As an example, a client offered a gas card may decline it, reporting that they’ve secured a ride with a friend. Ronna thinks clients only “take what they need” because they want to be sure funds are there when they are truly needed.
 
A challenge ARC faces is that while those who need ARC seem to know how to find it, many in the community don’t know about it, and therefore aren’t contributing. In addition, because they are so small, they aren’t always able to secure grant funding. ARC is transparent about its operations and proud of its low overhead. Ronna likes to be part of an organization before she donates to it; her experience with ARC has made her even more proud to support its work.
 
Ronna encouraged us all to learn more about ARC at www.ARCRiverFalls.org.
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