According to original Articles and By-laws dated February 1971, the DAC was known by the former name of Lake County Day Activity Center and was generated by children and adults with developmental disabilities and related conditions to provide specialized programming with efforts directed toward individual realization of maximum potential.
The history of the DAC began in the mid 50’s with a small group of parents meeting informally in the Bethlehem House in Two Harbors to provide activities to their three children. During this time there were no services for adults with disabilities in Lake County. In 1963 the Minnesota State legislature passed a bill allowing for the formation of Day Activity Centers which stimulated the organization of the Lake/Cook County Association for Retarded Citizens. A sixty dollar gift to the Association in September of 1970 was the beginning of the formation of an adult program under the direction of then President, Delores Johnson. On December 8, 1970 the first Board of Directors of Lake County Day Activity Center was formed and incorporation was granted on March 9, 1971 under the name Lake County Day Activity Center, Inc.
An agency director was hired in July of 1971 and through applications for operational grants through the state, the old school house in Knife River was secured and the DAC officially opened on September 13, 1971. Six program participants walked through the doors excited to have the opportunity to expand their abilities.
During the 1970s programming focused on the individual with sensory, educational, and recreational activities provided on a daily basis. The operating schedule coincided with the Lake County school system schedule.
Throughout the 1980s programming shifted to include a vocational component to meet the Minnesota definition of a day training program and the DACs name changed to Lake County Developmental Achievement Center, Inc. but still known as the DAC. Also, during the 1980s a paradigm shift occurred in the field of developmental disabilities where federal and state institutions that normally house those with disabilities and related conditions began to close. In turn, smaller group homes and privately run residential programs were developed. This was an exciting time in which many individuals moved into “their” communities and wanted jobs.
Contracts from area businesses were secured to provide the DAC participants job training, real work experience and most importantly an opportunity to receive a paycheck. Some of the work that was done on site at the DAC in the 1980s included manufacturing of buttons and badges (advertising tools for businesses) and the creation of flags to identify in-ground electric and telephone lines.
In 1985 the DAC Chore Crew with as many as six people and a crew supervisor provided lawn care and snow removal service to area businesses and private home/land owners. One year later the DAC was approached by Lake County to provide laborers and program staff to the newly created Arrowhead Recycling Center, located in Two Harbors. Here, participants and program staff work alongside each other sorting and preparing the recyclables for shipment to buyers.
Through the 1990s the DAC continued to secure and complete contracts of work with area businesses. In addition to “in-house” or work performed on site at the Knife River facility, the Minnesota Community Integration Association provided training to statewide DACs on how to provide community supported employment. This allowed the DAC to provide training to the participants with resume, job-seeking skills and employment outside the walls of the DAC. This expanded the opportunities for participants to be employed by the area business as the DAC provided the safety net of job skill training that would enable them to maintain employment in the community. The DAC also formed cooperative job/contract sharing relations with other agencies in the Duluth area such as Pinewood, Inc. and UDAC, Inc. This cooperative provided more opportunities for participants with community employment. The agency continued on in the 1990s with the continued mission component of the DAC was set, this vision has been the backbone of the agency.
In the early years of 2000 it was necessary to change one aspect of our program. There were a number of clientele involved in our program that were aging or had severe on-going medical needs, and who were no longer physically or mentally able to perform work. An “Alternative to Work” program was developed to serve their specific needs. This program is still running today, and has grown to meet the needs of those individuals. It offers a variety of daily activities along with needed medical therapies. The program consists of sensory integration activities, hygiene maintenance, art, music, games, social activities, and community integration activities. The program has been quite successful, and during the past eight years has grown into a program that provides a stimulation for all its clients. Staff working in the Alternative to Work program are specifically trained in functional maintenance programming, range of motion exercises, medication administration, and sensory integration along with all other training provided by the DAC.
On September 6, 2016, we opened the doors of our new location in the heart of downtown Two Harbors. Check back for updates on how we arrived to this decision to relocate and the progress we have made!