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CARLISLE — The Arc of Cumberland & Perry Counties on Saturday celebrated those who aid its cause during the most-attended CPARC Celebration in about 30 years, Executive Director John Reardon said.

The event is a “thank you to everyone who helps out: employees, volunteers, donors” at CPARC. About 175 attendees came to the annual gathering at Otterbein United Methodist Church, 247 Forge Road.

“That speaks so well for the fact that people want to come and celebrate and honor people, and most important support our organization — that’s key,” Reardon said.

CPARC is a local sect of The Arc, a nonprofit organization that promotes equal rights for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and supports their participation in the community. The organization provides advocacy, special education and residential programs to more than 3,500 individuals in Cumberland, Perry, Dauphin and York counties.

Sydney Yarnell, public relations specialist for CPARC, said the recipients of this year's awards were selected for “striving to live an independent life,” and exceeding the public’s expectations.

“This is just one step closer to getting them into the community. We teach them specific skills that are catered to their disability, and then well go out into the community and say, ‘Hey, we have this individual who is really great at this,’” Yarnell said. “It’s really awesome because it’s one step closer to being independent, and they’re able to feel fulfilled by having their own job and getting their own paycheck.”

Amanda Shanafelter was one of the five recipients of the Laurel F. Jacobs Achievement Award, which is given to those who have “met challenges, overcome difficulties, and gone on to lead a life that inspires others,” according to CAPRC’s website.

“I do appreciate it,” Shanafelter said.

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Brenda Jumper, who received the Luther S. Beers Distinguished Service Award for her volunteer efforts, said she is going to move into her own apartment in one month.

Jumper and Shanafelter have grown close through their volunteer work, something Yarnell said is common.

“It’s all about going above and beyond, and Brenda is just completely committed to helping them lead an independent life and also advocating for these individuals, as well,” Yarnell said.

“When (Jumper's) not here, I get disappointed,” Shanafelter said.

Jumper said being recognized for something she loves means a lot to her and that she is grateful of the support from her family at CPARC.

“I think what inspires me is the fact that the people we serve struggle every day, they face more barriers than you and I face, and they show up for work every day,” Jumper said. “They inspire me, and they help me out a lot.”

Reardon credits his staff for the continued success of CPARC, and said the organization will maintain a presence for years to come with their passion for helping others in the community.

“They’re very dedicated, they’re very committed to their work, they really care, and they go above and beyond the call of duty all the time,” Reardon said.

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Email Tyler Miles at tmiles@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @SentinelMiles

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