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Arc director settling in to new position

October 31, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

marlob@herald-mail.com

Growing up on the Eastern Shore, Phyllis Landry said one of her earliest memories was spending time with a special playmate when she went to visit her Aunt Mary.

"Then my friend had an illness that left her severely mentally retarded," Landry said. "She didn't even know me anymore and that made such an impression on me."

Landry said that experience at the age of 12 set her on a path that in May brought her to Arc of Washington County as executive director.

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After earning her undergraduate degree at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), she earned her master's degree in psychology and counseling at Loyola University.

Finding her way to Washington County was a dream come true for Landry.

"I used to be a reviewer in the State of Maryland," Landry said. As such, she has been in and out of similar organizations all over the state. "This is one of the best I've seen."

Landry said the concept is quite simple. The agency, which is based at 820 Florida Ave., supports the needs of people with disabilities.

The Florida Avenue location includes an activity center, a medical program and offices.

There also are day programs to keep clients out of nursing homes, as well as group homes and apartment settings, again designed to keep clients out of nursing homes.

The agency was started in 1952 by William McLean and his wife to provide an alternative for their daughter, who was developmentally disabled. McLean and a small group of Washington County parents decided they couldn't accept the idea of warehousing their children.

The group began a school, initially staffed by parents, but later with certified teachers. A Smithsburg farm later was turned into the Kemp Horn Training Center, where an adult day care program was created.

The farm later was subdivided to create Blueberry Heights, with some lots used for group homes. Now, Landry said, there are more than 50 group homes around the county.

Referrals come to Arc from the Department of Social Services, schools and doctors.

"And, sometimes, we just get phone calls," Landry said.

Though still new to the area, Landry said she is impressed with the cooperation between agencies in Washington County.

"It's a real partnership ... it has to be," she said.

Landry moved here with two children, whom she said are adapting well to the area.

"We love the mountains and go hiking whenever we can," she said.

Landry, 47, has a daughter who attends Clear Spring High School and a son who has finished school and is working.

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