The Way We Were
Very few of us can remember what things were like in 1952, and fewer still can say they were there when it all began. The world wasn’t a welcoming place for people born with disabilities back then. Families with a special needs child had nowhere to turn if they wanted education for their son or daughter. And disabled adults were rarely given a chance to work so they could support themselves. Sometimes, the “good ol’ days” just weren’t all that good for everyone.
In 1952, an organization called Homecrafters was started as a modest program for adults with disabilities to receive job training, learn work skills and actually earn their own money. Years later, the name had been changed to Tetra Corporation, and it had become a thriving nonprofit organization where lots of Tucsonans with disabilities could perform sub-contract work for many local businesses earning an income and learning what they needed to pursue an independent life on their own.
In 1955, eight local mothers with developmentally disabled children opened a small school specifically for children with mental retardation. They named it Beacon Foundation. In the 1970’s, when public schools began accepting developmentally disabled students, they, too, started serving adults who needed work training and real employment opportunities.
The two organizations continued to operate and grow over the next 25 years, essentially serving the same population and pursuing the same sub-contract work from local businesses. Five years ago this fall, these two great Tucson programs decided to join forces to provide the best possible opportunities for local people with disabilities and their families. That merger has been a “match made in heaven” for thousands of people with big needs and little hope of getting help. The new organization, Beacon Group, was twice the size as either organization was before, and because of their partnership, well positioned to grow even bigger.
Our New Facility
Over the next few years, Beacon Group has grown by 70% since we merged. That union of two long-standing and effective programs has been a huge success by any standard. The plan – and dream – was to one day operate as one facility under one roof. The tremendous growth of our organization made the need for a new, expanded facility more than just an idea for sometime in the future. We were “bursting at the seams” and the future was now!
After two years of planning, three years of fundraising and a year of construction, we are all finally under one roof. Our new 64,000 sq. ft. facility is spectacular and worth every penny! We welcome visitors at any time. Come see how we are writing the next chapter in our long, proud history.