The Orange County Association of Retarded Citizens, a nonprofit agency celebrating more than 50 years serving special needs clients, hasn’t suffered financially since Hurricane Ike.

“Business has been pretty good,” says Director John Thomas. “I’ve been surprised. I was worried there for awhile, but we’ve been holding our own since the storm. Many of our clients came back like nothing happened. We made sure the vending machines were working again; they’re pretty popular.”

The office serves some 65 to 70 clients who make trophies, printed signs, plaques, desk sets and name pins. OCARC is supported by other nonprofit interests, fundraisers and donations.

There has been one change of note for anglers who take part in the association’s annual benefit fishing tournament each August. Since the close of the DuPont Employees Recreation Association, the weigh-ins will take place this year at the OCARC center on Park Avenue. 

Another, Thomas says, is the addition of a wide printer for making large signs and banners.

“This gives us the ability to do full-color printing on a large scale, which we used to not be able to do,” Thomas says.

Started by Cathryn Boyd and many concerned parents, the original workshop began in Boyd’s home and later moved to the Thomen Community Center. The present location was founded in 1971. 

Since the ‘70s, the association has expanded with other extensions.

Thomas has been with the OCARC since 1974 (back then there were eight clients), and the director for about the last 25 years.

Thomas says that at the OCARC, you will meet some of the greatest people in the world.

“Everyone should have an outlook like [our clients],” who through the OCARC gain living skills and independence, he says.

The fishing tourney offers big money in divisions for speckled trout, redfish, flounder, bass, white perch, catfish, croaker, grinnel, rough fish and gar. Only redfish from 20 to 27 inches are allowed.

Most contestants fish Sabine River or Sabine Lake, but any open public fishing area can be used including Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend.

For more information about the OCARC services, or to inquire about donations or placing clients, call 886-1363.