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For the past 20 years, the St. Louis Arc has supported young adults explore options for their future. Neighborhood Experiences is a unique program which engages participants, ages 13-20, in volunteer and work experiences to achieve personal and career goals.

Participants begin by exploring their personal interests and doing research on potential volunteer sites. Throughout the summer, participants engage in at least four to five volunteer and/or work experiences. At the end of the program, each individual works to create a professional portfolio and resume showcasing his or her accomplishments.

A Parent’s Advocacy

This unique program began in 1996 when a diligent parent, Judy Presberg, collaborated with Kim Kopff, former Director of Leisure at the St. Louis Arc. Judy wanted to ensure that her daughter and others with disabilities would be able to continue to participate in quality programs after their kids aged out of day camp. In the summer of 1997, 10 young adults were the first to participate in the program. Judy, Kim and the Leisure team envisioned young adults obtaining meaningful experiences through working, volunteering, and recreating in their neighborhood. Twenty years later Neighborhood Experiences is still going strong.

Throughout the past 20 years, 285 young adults, have volunteered at over 400 agencies in the Greater St. Louis area. The Arc is grateful to the outstanding staff and participants who have made this award-winning program such a success throughout the years.

Celebrating 20 Years

On November 2, over 100 individuals gathered to celebrate the tremendous achievement of Neighborhood Experiences. Among those in attendance included Kim Kopff, two young men from the inaugural year of the program, three past coordinators, and four former staff. One young gentleman traveled all the way from South Dakota to be at the celebration.

Fun Facts:

  • 45 individuals have used the skills they gained in Neighborhood Experiences to secure paid employment and 21 have gone on to colleges to seek a degree.
  • One Neighborhood Experiences alum has volunteered for the past 20 years at the West County YMCA, a site she began volunteering at during their first year in the program.
  • Individuals have volunteered for approximately 126,488 hours!

Thank you and congratulations to all of those who have been apart of this amazing program over the past twenty years! If you are interested in signing up for the next Neighborhood Experiences please contact Meghan Murphy, Coordinator of Leisure Services at 314-817-2250. For employment opportunities with the St. Louis Arc, please contact our Recruitment team at recruiting@slarc.org.

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