The Arc of Indiana Foundation is pleased to announce that the postsecondary training institute for people with disabilities, under construction in Muncie, Indiana, has been named the Erskine Green Training Institute in honor of Carl Erskine and Steve Green and their families. This one-of-a-kind program will provide vocational training for a variety of jobs in the hotel, food service, and healthcare environments. It is scheduled to open to its first students in January, 2016.
Many know Carl Erskine for his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, as well as his banking career in Anderson, Indiana. Steve Green, Bobby Knight’s first recruit at Indiana University, went on to enjoy a successful professional basketball career with the Indiana Pacers and built a successful dental practice in Fishers, Indiana. While they were building their careers, Carl and his wife Betty, and Steve and his wife Lana, also worked to make a significant impact in the lives of people with disabilities, inspired by their children, Jim Erskine and Jessica Green, who were born with Down syndrome.
Kim Dodson, Executive Director, The Arc of Indiana Foundation, said, “The Erskine and Green families represent the first two generations of The Arc movement that paved the way for today’s generation of families and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Thousands of Hoosier families have better lives because of their efforts. It is our honor to recognize their work with the naming of the country’s first training institute of its kind. “
“Neither family knew the impact that they would have on Hoosiers with disabilities when Jim and Jessica were born. They just knew their children deserved the same opportunities as every other child. Today, Jim and Jessica serve as role models for others with disabilities. As The Arc approaches its 60th anniversary, we are grateful for the many families like the Erskines and Greens who have helped us reach important milestones for people with disabilities. Just like mandatory education, the first community residential living programs, and the closure of state institutions, the Erskine Green Training Institute will be a landmark achievement in Indiana’s history for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Dodson said.
The Erskine’s began their advocacy for people with disabilities in the 1950’s when their son Jim was born with Down syndrome. They became leaders in the early movement to develop programs and services to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in communities throughout Indiana. Their work, along with other early pioneers, led to the establishment of Hopewell Center – the local chapter of The Arc in Madison County. Today, Hopewell provides services to over 600 children and adults through early childhood, employment and residential services; and the Erskine family continues to actively serve the organization. With the support of Hopewell and his family, Jim is celebrating 16 years of employment at Applebee’s in Anderson.
In addition to his work to establish Hopewell, it was a natural fit for Erskine to channel his athletic interests towards helping to found Special Olympics Indiana. He knew that getting his son Jim and others involved in athletics would enrich their lives. Today, Special Olympics Indiana is recognized as an innovative leader in the world of sports through their integrated sports programs that brings people with and without disabilities together in a wide range of sporting events. In 2012, Erskine authored The Parallel, a book that details the similarities of the journeys of Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, and his Jim – looking at how both overcame prejudice and rejection to achieve acceptance and inclusion. Erskine has dedicated this book to the benefit of Special Olympics Indiana, and it provides a pathway to planned giving support in his honor through the Carl and Betty Erskine Society.
Steve Green first connected with The Arc in 1974 when he was a junior on the IU basketball team and The Arc Executive Director John Dickerson, at that time The Arc’s Assistant Director for Local Unit Affairs, traveled to Bloomington to get a basketball signed for a raffle for The Arc. It was when the Green’s daughter, Jessica, was born with Down syndrome that his life reconnected with The Arc. One of the first calls that the Green’s received was from Coach Bobby Knight. He encouraged them to not listen to anyone who told them what she could not do, and to focus their energy towards working with Jessica to build her own life. Just like the Erskines, the Green’s did not let a label or diagnosis change their dreams for their daughter.
In 1989, Erskine agreed to chair The Arc’s first golf outing and Green joined in the event. The following year he agreed to host the event, and would continue as the host for the next 25 years. Over $1,200,000 was raised for The Arc over the years that Green chaired the event.
As president of the Indiana chapter of Donated Dental Services, part of the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH), Green and dentists across the state provide critical care to individuals with disabilities at no charge.
Because of the work of the Erskines along with countless other parents, Jessica Green had the benefit of mandatory public education, something that Jim Erskine did not have.
The Greens advocated for Jessica to be integrated with her peers throughout elementary and high school. Jessica graduated from North Central High School and was one of the first students with an intellectual disability to attend Marion College.
Today, Jessica volunteers at GiGi’s Playhouse and serves as a public speaker for Down Syndrome Indiana and the National Down Syndrome Congress.
Along with serving on the board for Noble, the local chapter of The Arc in Marion and Hamilton Counties, Green served on The Arc of Indiana’s board, and has spoken at events around the state to share his family’s story and inspire others.
Erskine Green Training Institute
The Arc strives to empower people and inspire change in many ways, including expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities. We not only advocate for change, we are working to be part of that change by developing the Erskine Green Training Institute and the nation’s first teaching hotel – the Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center.
After receiving training at the institute, individuals will apply those skills through an internship at the Courtyard Muncie, developed by our for-profit affiliate, Arc Innovations. Other internship opportunities are available at the Thr3e Wiseman restaurant that will be located at the Courtyard Muncie and at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
Construction is now underway. The Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center is slated to open in December 2015. The Erskine Green Training Institute will open to students in January 2016.
The Arc of Indiana
The Arc of Indiana was established in 1956 by parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who joined together to build a better and more accepting world for their children. The Arc of Indiana is committed to all people with I/DD realizing their goals of learning, living, working and fully participating in the community. Today, the combined strength of local Arcs, state Arcs and The Arc of the United States makes The Arc the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.