2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

ARC Thrift Store employees to graduate from life-skills university Wednesday

Published: January 21, 2014, 4:38 pm, by Debbie Kelley

Ninety-four intellectually and developmentally disabled workers at ARC Thrift Stores throughout Colorado will graduate Wednesday  from a new University program the organization started, including 19 from Colorado Springs.

Class valedictorian Dennis Schwed was part of the first mainstreaming into society in Colorado Springs, after he got out of institutionalization in October 1975, at age 21.

He lived at the Cheyenne Village group home and became involved with the ARC of the Pikes Peak Region.

He worked at the YMCA for 12 years and Target for 12 years. Since December 2009, he’s worked as a cashier at the ARC Thrift Store at 1830 W. Uintah St.  Schwed is known for delivering great customer service and has become so efficient at his job that he helps train new employees.

The 12-month ARC program, which teaches life skills such as financial literacy, music appreciation, transportation mobility, pet care and food preparation, operates like a university with lectures, course work, study guides and tests.

The graduation starts with refreshments at 4 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 4:45 p.m.  Wednesday, Jan. 22, at The Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., in Arvada. Radio talk show host Angie Austin will deliver the commencement address, and Schwed also will address his graduating class.

The university program is funded by a $100,000 grant from The Daniels Fund.