Championing the cause of people with disabilities for close to 60 years, Desert Arc was awarded a grant of six large buses, valued at $438,000, from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Division of Rail and Mass Transportation’s Section 5310 Program. As a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for people with disabilities, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 5310 Program’s financial assistance is impactful in meeting the specialized transportation needs of Desert Arc’s clients. Desert Arc serves adults, 18 and older, with developmental and intellectual disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and other medical conditions, and some of its clients have multiple disabilities. Each of the donated buses can accommodate two people in wheelchairs and 16 additional clients who are ambulatory, in addition to, Desert Arc’s supportive transportation staff members.
The goal of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program is to improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation services and expanding the transportation mobility options available. According to Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., serving California’s 36th District,
“This grant provided by the Federal Transit Administration and Caltrans will ensure that adults with developmental disabilities across our region can access the outstanding educational services, job-training programs, and many other services that Desert Arc provides to our residents. Every member of our community, including those with developmental disabilities, can contribute to our local economy and deserves to lead a full, healthy, and productive life.” “I was proud to advocate for Desert Arc to secure this federal investment and support our local community,” said Dr. Ruiz.
Richard Balocco, President/CEO of Desert Arc, states, “Currently, we have a fleet of 29 buses that provides 300 of our clients with free, daily, door-to-door bus service in the Coachella Valley and Morongo Basin. This vital transportation assistance program provided by Desert Arc affords people the opportunity to be picked up directly from their residence, versus curbside service, every morning, Monday through Friday. Our buses take our clients to their respective Desert Arc program location in Palm Desert or Yucca Valley, or to their work employment site, and bring them back home at the end of the day. Desert Arc is eligible to submit a Caltrans grant proposal every two to three years to replace older buses or expand routes, and we are grateful for this support for our clients. It’s important to note, Desert Arc’s transit program logs more than 54,000 miles and an average usage of over 10,000 gallons of gas every month.”
About Desert Arc
Desert Arc is a vital nonprofit organization, founded in 1959, serving people with disabilities in the Desert Communities. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for people with disabilities. There are nearly 700 clients currently enrolled in and benefiting from Desert Arc’s wide range of programs and services. Making a profound difference in the lives of people with disabilities, its life-changing programs are designed to help their clients secure employment, find homes, have a safe place to come to every day and interact with others, and most importantly, to reach their highest potential to live, work and play in their communities.
Since its inception, Desert Arc has offered programs including on-site vocational training, work teams, volunteering in the community or individual placements with job coaching services at community business sites. Desert Arc’s various job crews provide many types of commercial services to their community business partners, thus giving Desert Arc clients a variety of work choices. Some of these services include Landscaping, Recycling, Shredding, Janitorial, Cafeteria/Kitchen, Order Processing and Fulfillment. Services are tailored to meet the clients’ abilities and interests, in order to enable them to strive for and achieve personal and professional success, and to be appreciated and valued as productive members of society. Desert Arc’s main headquarters are located on Country Club Drive in Palm Desert and consist of three buildings totaling 50,000 square feet of space. In addition, Desert Arc has a Recycling and Shredding Division in Indio and a satellite facility in Yucca Valley.