Desert Arc - Enhancing Lives and Creating Opportunities

In 1959, Desert Arc was established to provide vocational training and development services to  the developmentally disabled in our community.   Since that time, Desert Arc’s core mission has always been to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for people with disabilities.  A core belief of the organization is that anyone who wants to work and has the ability to work should have the opportunity to work.

Today, Desert Arc serves 700 Clients, mostly over the age of 18, throughout the Coachella and Morongo Valleys.  The organization offers a broad array of programs and services tailored to the unique needs of each and every client.   The three main divisions within Desert Arc consist of Vocational Programs, Licensed Programs, and Community Programs.
Our Clients want opportunities to enhance their lives,” stated Richard Balocco, President & CEO of Desert Arc.  “My own personal mission is to get our Clients the opportunities they deserve.  Collectively as a group, they deserve the same opportunities in life as anybody else.  They definitely add value to our society,” Balocco continued.
Desert Arc has created for its Clients a variety of options including onsite vocational training, work teams called Enclaves, volunteering in the community or individual placements with Job Coaching services at community business sites.   The Desert Arc crews provide many business services to their community Business Partners, thus giving Desert Arc Clients a variety of work choices.   Some of these services include Cafeteria Services, Contract Fulfillment, Pentel Order Fulfillment, Janitorial, Landscaping, Recycling, and Shredding Services.  Services are tailored to meet the Clients’ abilities and interests, in order to enable them to strive for and achieve personal success.   This allows them to feel they are appreciated, valued, and are productive members of our society.
The organization’s Licensed Programs, provide services to engage individuals in meaningful daily activities, including several fun learning activities such as arts and crafts, motor and sensory skill development, and community supporting volunteer activities, in order to keep Clients learning and growing on a daily basis.
Desert Arc’s Community Programs provide in-home support services to approximately 100 Clients, enabling them to remain living independently.   The organization provides these opportunities and training to increase choices and achieve greater personal success.  With services designed to meet Clients’ abilities, they enjoy learning new skills including cooking, shopping, financial management, housekeeping, and so much more.  Desert Arc also provides opportunities for social skills training and peer interaction for all of its Clients.  The sports and recreational choices include bowling, basketball, bocce ball, swimming, zumba and other exercise classes, art classes, and choir.  These after work activities offer Clients social interaction, in order to maintain happy and fulfilling lives.
Desert Arc’s main headquarters are located on Country Club Drive in Palm Desert, consisting of three buildings totaling 50,000 square feet of space.  In addition, Desert Arc has a Recycling and Bus Yard in Indio, as well as, a satellite facility in Yucca Valley.  A robust transportation system provides their Client population with the means to get to and from home to worksites and volunteer opportunities each day.   Desert Arc’s transportation systems logs over 54,000 miles and averages over 10,000 gallons of gas monthly!
Some of Desert Arc’s community Business Partners employing their Clients include Eisenhower Medical Center, Mario Restaurants, Desert Regional Hospital, JFK Hospital, Ernie Ball Guitars, The City of Yucca Valley, Sunnylands,  and the City of Indio.
Clients are referred to Desert Arc by the Regional Center who is funded by the State of California and the State Department of Rehabilitation.  Once approved for service, Clients are placed in the appropriate program based on their current abilities.  Each program has a reimbursement rate set by the State of California.  These reimbursement rates have been in effect since 2001, and have remained unchanged except for changes to the minimum wage and a slight increase to rates last year.  Prior to the reimbursement rate change in 2001, reimbursement rates were established based on cost statements which allowed each agency to recover reasonable costs.  The system in California is unique because it is an entitlement system, which means developmentally disabled individuals once registered with the State can receive services.  All other States work with a budget, which creates a waiting list for services.
The State provides each regional center with funding for 251 days of service for each Client in day work activity and transportation programs.  Desert Arc also provides hourly services to Clients living independently and/or in their homes.  These services are usually limited to 20 hours a month.  While funding is allocated for year long services, Desert Arc does not receive funding when Clients are unable to attend programs due to legitimate absences, vacation, or other missed time.  Desert Arc maintains an annual attendance of 85%.
The State believes that when a Client does not attend a program, that Desert Arc does not incur any costs, which is, of course, NOT true.   All of Desert Arc’s programs have staffing ratios established by the State, so when their Clients cannot attend programs, Desert Arc’s costs continue.    The State has not put any mechanism in place to adjust these rates for inflation and absenteeism.   This has forced Desert Arc to seek community fundraising support for its valuable programs and services.
If you would like to help and/or lend financial support please call Richard Balocco at 760- 346-1611 Ex 207 or at or visit
JANUARY 31, 2018 -  Desert Arc Recognition Luncheon at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa.
APRIL 5, 2018 – Desert Arc’s 9th Annual Golf Classic at Eagle Falls Golf Course at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

29 Nov 2017

By Madeline Zuckerman
Issue 15