Laughter, music and hugs filled the grounds of the Los Angeles Residential Community (LARC) Ranch Sunday afternoon as 500 people came together for this year’s annual fundraiser.
Each year, the annual fundraiser, which is LARC Ranch’s main source of fundraising, brings in approximately $100,000 according to Executive Director Kathy, Sturkey. This year’s fundraiser had a nautical “Be Our Lifesaver” theme and the funds raised would go to maintenance on the ranch’s 20-year-old living quarters. This year’s fundraiser featured a live DJ, games, a photo booth, dancing and food for all the guests.
“It makes me so proud to see all of the family and friends out here today that have been essential to seeing us thrive and continue,” Sturkey said. “We used to have this fundraiser as a formal event in big hotels, and it was lovely but all the money went to the venue. By holding it here, people get to see what their money goes to.”
LARC Ranch is home to 93 adults and senior citizens with developmental disabilities and provides them with a community of their peers and a chance to live independently. Residents of LARC Ranch often travel into town to work and spend their free time, then return to the ranch when the day is done.
This year’s fundraiser was extra special because it commemorated the ranch’s 60th anniversary. Sturkey, who has worked at the ranch for 25 years, said the anniversary served as an important reminder that everyone has their own special needs, and that the residents of the ranch should be seen as people first.
“This place started in 1959 as by parents who wanted a better life for their children whose civil rights were not protected,” Sturkey said. “Attitudes over time have changed and now people with special needs are everywhere and are very involved, and we’d like to see LARC Ranch continue for another 60 years at least.”
Ruth Handel’s brother Daniel has lived at the ranch for almost 40 years. Handel said she views the ranch as the greatest thing to happen to her brother because it has allowed him to independently develop a community and social life.
“The magic of LARC Ranch is that it is a community of people living their best lives instead of being stuck like a child at home,” she said. “For this population, it’s a paradise on Earth. What’s amazing to me is that as I get older and celebrate milestones in my life, my brother gets to do the same with the other adults here.”
Handel’s sister Haya also visited during the fundraiser and said LARC brings a “richness and diversity” to the community of Santa Clarita.
“LARC residents spend a lot of money in the city, so having the ranch here is already economically a plus,” Haya said. “It’s also an opportunity for people to interact with developmentally disabled adults and enrich each other’s lives.”
Peter Goldbach, a 14-year resident of LARC Ranch said he really enjoyed the fundraiser.
“I really like all the different food and seeing all the people out here,” Goldbach said. “It’s really fun and I love it here.”