Page 6 - Scene Magazine 45-11 November 2020
P. 6

  Did You Know?
     have a seat on the Lakeview School board, be the executive director of the Arc of Calhoun County and still find time to run in the early mornings and participate in virtual half marathons?
Leah gives credit to her supportive husband Pepé Ortiz for being able to balance all her activities and their three children, Taryn, Emerson, and Corbin. “I couldn’t do what I do without him and we’ve found a couple positives with the effects of the quarantine [due to Covid 19],” Leah said. “We spend more time as a family. I save eight to nine hours a week not driving to Lansing
She exists in real life as Leah Ortiz and she really does show up for all those activities and successfully leads the Arc to be visible in our community. You may scratch your head saying “I think I’ve heard of the Arc, but I don’t know what they do.” The Arc has been part of our community since 1954... that’s more than 60 years but for most of that time they were pretty invisible. The Mission of the Arc of Calhoun County is to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are valued and respected in order that they and their families can participate fully in and contribute to their community.
Arc provides support through programs that put people with those disabilities in places that are visible in our communi- ty. Leah tells about someone who may think they want to work with animals because they are so cute and cuddly
for law school and we’re all learning to learn virtually.” When they are not quar- antined the family enjoys camping. “We are gone each weekend somewhere dif- ferent,” she tells me. And the running? Leah signed up for 40 by 40. That’s
All those words mean, “We serve those in our community who are intel- lectually or developmentally disabled,” Leah said. “Disability doesn’t discrim- inate. The people we serve are com- munity members and have a right to be anywhere any other community member is. Don’t think, ‘This won’t happen to me’ because, for instance, 1 in 56 chil- dren are diagnosed with Autism.” The
in a paid position where they get to be with animals but they also may have responsibilities that put them in contact with customers at the store. “Sometimes they find out they don’t like cleaning cages, but that’s part of the job,” Leah explains.
40 half marathons by the time she’s 40. “I’m an avid runner. I think I do it for my mental health and I’m showcasing a healthy lifestyle to my family and friends.’
Did you know you can be almost 40, have a Master’s Degree in Social Work, be a former San Antonio police officer, be married with three children,
believes her experience as a fellow police officer (San Antonio), and her degree in mental health, and her expe- rience with clinical diagnosis as well as evaluating, provides her the credibility and perspective to train those whose job it is to help people in our com- munity. It’s called Crisis Intervention Training and Leah says, “I’ve been in their shoes. I can help them learn how to recognize and interact with people who may not be compliant because they can’t be compliant.”
Leah Ortiz
but they’ve never had a pet and never worked with animals. The Arc programs work with community partners such as Pet Supplies Plus to place that person
Another program of the Arc
helps with training police officers about identifying people who may be developmentally disabled so they don’t end up going through the courts. Leah
I was almost out of breath just listen- ing to Leah tell me about her activities when she brought up one more program of the Arc of Calhoun County. It’s a fairly new program called Theirlooms ( Community members donate furniture and the Arc pays people with disabilities to re-pur- pose and in turn sell the donated items either at BC Cargo in the summer or on-line the rest of the year.
T. R. Shaw Jr. Co-Founder / CEO / 269-209-5555 cell / Kathy Shaw Co-Founder / President / 269-209-9719 cell /
Leah and her staff are headquartered at the corner of Riverside Drive and Co- lumbia Avenue but don’t expect to find them there a lot. “We don’t provide ser- vices in our building. We are where they need us, partnering with the community in the community,” she says. Leah can be found at
(if she isn’t running a half marathon).

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