Frequently Asked Questions

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The Arc Gateway works to ensure children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy productive lives and have the support that they need to reach their goals. Through programs that promote choice and independence, a wide array of community based services are offered across the life span from infancy to the retirement years.

Children’s services include early intervention developmental therapy and pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy where parents learn strategies to use in their children’s daily routines.

For our adult population, in addition to community residential homes, Arc Gateway offers work activities, job training, independent living supports, life skills development courses, a transition educational program, and a ‘retirement’ program.

Children are referred for early intervention services through the Early Steps program at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart. Parents can self-refer by calling 850-416-7656. The goal of Early Steps is to connect families and caregivers with services to enhance their child’s development so that children will be ready to succeed when they enter school. These services are provided at no cost to the family. Families are assigned a Service Coordinator to help them navigate the process of evaluation to actually obtaining services like those provided by Pearl Nelson Center.

A child can be referred directly to Pearl Nelson Center for speech, physical or occupational therapy services through a prescription from their primary care physician. An evaluation and recommendations for treatment will be provided to the family and physician. Pearl Nelson Center’s pediatric therapy services include a specialty feeding program for problem feeders and vision rehabilitation for school age children to help with vision problems not correctable with glasses. Vision rehab addresses vision problems affecting academic performance as well as the visual complaints following concussion. We accept most insurance plans and Medicaid as well as a private payment plan.

Most adults served by The Arc Gateway are referred through the Agency for Person with Disabilities (APD). APD works in partnership with local communities and private providers to assist people who have developmental disabilities and their families. APD also provides assistance in identifying the needs of people with developmental disabilities for supports and services. Please visit apd.myflorida.com for more information or to apply for services.

The Arc Gateway also accepts private pay for services. Please contact The Arc Gateway for more information.

Adults seeking competitive employment should register with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Florida Department of Education. More information can be obtained at rehabworks.org

The Arc Gateway works to ensure children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy productive lives and have the support that they need to reach their goals. Through programs that promote choice and independence, a wide array of community based services are offered across the life span from infancy to the retirement years.

Children’s services include early intervention developmental therapy and pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy where parents learn strategies to use in their children’s daily routines.

For our adult population, in addition to community residential homes, Arc Gateway offers work activities, job training, independent living supports, life skills development courses, a transition educational program, and a ‘retirement’ program.

The Arc Gateway works to ensure children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy productive lives and have the support that they need to reach their goals. Through programs that promote choice and independence, a wide array of community based services are offered across the life span from infancy to the retirement years.

Children’s services include early intervention developmental therapy and pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy where parents learn strategies to use in their children’s daily routines.

For our adult population, in addition to community residential homes, Arc Gateway offers work activities, job training, independent living supports, life skills development courses, a transition educational program, and a ‘retirement’ program.

The Arc Gateway works to ensure children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy productive lives and have the support that they need to reach their goals. Through programs that promote choice and independence, a wide array of community based services are offered across the life span from infancy to the retirement years.

Children’s services include early intervention developmental therapy and pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy where parents learn strategies to use in their children’s daily routines.

For our adult population, in addition to community residential homes, Arc Gateway offers work activities, job training, independent living supports, life skills development courses, a transition educational program, and a ‘retirement’ program.

The Arc Gateway works to ensure children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy productive lives and have the support that they need to reach their goals. Through programs that promote choice and independence, a wide array of community based services are offered across the life span from infancy to the retirement years.

Children’s services include early intervention developmental therapy and pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy where parents learn strategies to use in their children’s daily routines.

For our adult population, in addition to community residential homes, Arc Gateway offers work activities, job training, independent living supports, life skills development courses, a transition educational program, and a ‘retirement’ program.

Have a question about something not listed here?

Dawn VonStein

Pollak Training Center Program Manager

A native of Pensacola, Dawn VonStein graduated from the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education.  She began working at The Arc Gateway in 1993 as a support specialist for the Women’s Training Center where she felt she could use her teaching background to help teach daily living skills to the women at the group home. When asked why she has made her career at The Arc Gateway she says it is, “because there are few other places I could work where every day is different, I feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life, and I am truly loved by those I serve.”

Dondie Roper

PALS Program Director

Dondie is an innovator with more than 15 years’ experience driving results in program management, marketing, and media production. In addition to her studies in Journalism and Communication Arts at the University of West Florida, Dondie has received certification in Nonprofit Management. Dondie is very active in the community serving on board of directors for area nonprofit organizations, secretary/treasurer for UWADA, Loaned Executive with United Way, and volunteer with Special Olympics.

Brittany Houghton

Events Manager

Brittany graduated from Pensacola State College in 2014 with an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. She is currently enrolled and working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management. Before starting at The Arc Gateway in 2018, Brittany worked as the Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager for the Flora-Bama Lounge & Package. There she gained professional experience assisting the Events Department organizing many charity events. Brittany enjoys raising needed funds for our clients and giving tours of the organization to spread awareness. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and supporting Downtown Pensacola with her pup.

Natalie Hurd

South Santa Rosa Associate Program Manager

Natalie began her journey with The Arc Gateway in October 2018.  She came on board with 20+ years of customer service experience in multiple platforms to include Walt Disney World and Gulf Power Company. She earned three college degrees to include an Associate of Science in Legal Assisting, a bachelor’s in Business Administration and a master’s in Public Administration.  Natalie has 6 furry four-legged children and enjoys attending and volunteering at Community Life United Methodist Church. 

Jennah White

Special Projects Manager

Jennah began her journey with The Arc Gateway in the fall of 2016 as an assistant to Human Resources. During her time with the agency, Jennah has acquired her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology along with a Certificate in Human Resources both from The University of West Florida.  Jennah can be considered a “jack-of-all-trades” thus securing her role as the Special Projects Manager (Office Manager). She also takes an active role in her community as a member of Pensacola Young Professionals.

Níta J Hooks

Senior Adult Program Manager

Níta started working at the Arc Gateway in January 2019 as the Senior Adult Program Manager. She began working in the Developmental Disabilities field in 2015 as a Support Coordinator and has worked as Supportive Living Coach and a QMRP. Níta earned an Associate Degree in Pre-Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling. She also worked as a Licensed Clinical Mental Therapist in Mississippi with all populations. “It is a joy to get up each morning, come into the program and work with such a wonderful group of people who keep me on my toes. I wouldn’t trade this job for anything in the world.”

Amanda Holtzhower

Human Resources Manager

Bio 

Daniel Ferguson

Pollak Industries & Community Based Employment Program Director

Daniel Ferguson comes from just about everywhere. Hawaii, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, you name it. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Psychology from the University of Tennessee, and a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland. His background is as a teacher, but the call of serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities brought him to The Arc Gateway in 2019, where he serves as Program Director for Pollak Industries and Community-Based Employment.

Rebecca Baron

Residential & Community Service Director

Rebecca is a Pensacola native who graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has been a part of The Arc Gateway team for over 2 decades, starting her career with us in 1997. Rebecca’s first position with The Arc Gateway was a Support Specialist in the Pal/Ace program. From that role she became a Group Home Manager with one of our female group homes, then moved into her current position as Director of Residential and Community services. “I love making a difference in the lives of people we serve and assisting them to achieve their goals and gain skills toward independence.”

MaryAnn Bickerstaff

Children’s Services Director

MaryAnn Bickerstaff began her career at The Arc Gateway in 1986 as an Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist soon after completing an internship with the Pearl Nelson Center’s Early Intervention and Preschool programs at the completion of her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education at the University of West Florida. After working in this role for four years, MaryAnn became the Early Intervention Coordinator and in 1990 assumed the position as Children’s Services Director. During this time, she is proud of the program’s growth and diversity in funding, including grants and fundraising activities, but she is most proud of the impact her team is making in the lives of children every day. MaryAnn is very engaged with community partners and serves on the Board of the Early Learning Coalition and the Operational Support Team of Achieve Escambia among others. MaryAnn is a proud to be a native of Pensacola.

Chip Henderson

Chief Advancement Officer

Chip graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts in 1989 and has spent his career in marketing communications, fundraising and special events. He’s worked in a variety of industries and nonprofits, including The Arc Gateway in the mid-1990s. He founded and managed his own brand intelligence firm, Emagination Unlimited, for 18 years before deciding to follow his passion and “return home” to the nonprofit world. Mission-focused work is in his DNA.

Dan Buryj

Chief Financial Officer

Dan Buryj joined The Arc Gateway in 2017, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge about the non-profit and financial industries. Dan has over two decades of service in the non-profit sector.  He has held several operational and financial leadership positions within diverse organizations focused on social change through human services, the arts, and technology. Dan has also served on several nonprofit boards including Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – San Diego and FoodRaising Friends.  Dan is a graduate from Bentley College in Waltham, MA with an undergraduate degree in Public Policy & Social Change, and holds his Masters of Nonprofit Management from Regis University.

Cathy Lauterbach

Chief Operating Officer

Cathy Lauterbach has shared her talent with The Arc Gateway for over two decades. A California native, Cathy obtained a bachelor’s degree in management from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. She began her employment with the agency in 1995 as an employment specialist. From that role, she became the program manager at the Pollak Training Center before moving into the position as director of Residential and Community Services, and now her position as COO overseeing adult programs at The Arc Gateway. 

Melissa Rogers

Chief Executive Officer

Missy has been working in the field of developmental disabilities since 1997.  Throughout her career she has performed in a variety of roles including direct care, case management, fundraising and administration.  Her extensive knowledge base and experience allows her a unique perspective and understanding of issues facing the disabled community.  Missy’s passion and dedication can be felt in her decision-making process as she always puts the best interests of those being served by the agency first.  In her spare time, she can be seen acting with a local dinner theater acting troupe. Missy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Elon University in North Carolina and is originally from Virginia.