Dr. Geraldine Clark: A Trailblazer for Adults with Disabilities.
"There were no programs [in Utah] which taught any work skills to the adult retarded person. All ages were attending schools set up for small children. The need was for a workshop/work activity center for…those over 16 years old. A Board of Directors was formed from this group, adding representatives from the community who knew fundraising, public relations, and organizing volunteers… We opened our doors June 6, 1968. There were three teachers and eight students. That was all."
– Dr. Geraldine ClarkWe Have Been There:A Guidebook for Parents of People with Mental Retardation.
Dr. Geraldine Clark’s advocacy is respected both locally and nationally.She worked with parents to help start Columbus, but she has also worked at the state and national levels to advocate for change.
A recognized professional in the area of developmental disabilities, she helped start programs in Utah that became models for efforts thatlater become national in scope, including the ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens).
Parents and Their Children Who Attended Columbus Community Center Opening Day June 6, 1968
Donna Adams and Ronald*Donna Anderson and LindsayHelen Denhalter and AnnHope Hortin and Tyleen*Alice Lund and PattiDoris Oliver and SteveCarmen Paulsen and RickyPhyllis Stewart and Martha
*Participants in Columbus Community Center today
Founding Directors of the Salt Lake Community Foundation for Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Persons, Inc.
Mrs. Donna AndersonDr. Grant B. BittersDr. Benjamin B. BruseMr. Donald C. CaffallMrs. Virginia ColeMr. Paul R. DroubayDr. Robert L. ErdmanMrs. Lee FeltMike F. GonzalesMrs. Nadine HobbyMrs. Ann JarchoMr. R. Hulbet KeddingtonMr. Ormond KonkleMr. Edwin L. Madsen, Jr.Mrs. Ann ParkerMiss LaVerna PetersonMrs. Doris RoseMr. Carl E. ShawhanStephen D. SwindleDr. Arthur C. WiscombeMr. Ralph B. Wright
The Salt Lake Tribune
November 3, 1974
Handicapped Students Welcome President, Show Off Wares
President Ford went back to school Saturday in Salt Lake City. All 192 current students at Columbus Community Center, 2530-5th East, a facility for physically and mentally handicapped persons 16 or over, attended classes on a regular day off (they had Friday free) to show the President their skills and just to extend greetings to the chief executive…To the excitable students—ranging from 16 to 58—the day was one of the most important in their lives. The President of the United States was “paying a call.”
The rest of the story:When students at Columbus heard that President Ford was coming to Utah, they sent him a letter inviting him to the center. Their initiative paid off when he decided to visit Columbus during his brief visit to Utah. A year later, in October 1975, Columbus was recognized by the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, as “one of the country’s leading rehabilitation and vocational training centers” for people with disabilities in the United States.