Our Programs

Through various programs that promote independence, The Arc Gateway provides job training, residential support, skill development courses, basic education, community involvement activities and more.

Living

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Our licensed group homes provide supportive relationships, supervision and encouragement that help people become independent and involved in the community.

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Coaching staff helps with household chores, cooking meals, shopping, handling personal finances and teaches social and adaptive skills that are applicable to independent living.

Learning

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A post-secondary program that gives students with I/DD the opportunity to go to college, learn new skills, explore careers, prepare for employment and ultimately gain more independence.

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This program offers a meaningful daily routine to individuals age 50+ with I/DD, who may be slowing down and ready for retirement.

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A fun-filled adult day training program located at Pollak Training Center that provides a safe, educational environment encouraging friendships, laughter, and learning.

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Located in South Santa Rosa County, Program participants learn a variety of daily living skills that are necessary in the home and workplace while encouraging community inclusion.

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L.I.F.E., a Pollak Training Center program, provides a meaningful day activity that promotes skill acquisition and independence in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Daily activities include workplace readiness, daily living skills, computer literacy, community inclusion, art and recreation, and much more.

Working

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One-on-one job placement and coaching to help people with disabilities find competitive employment with local businesses.
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Not only does this program provide jobs for people with developmental disabilities while providing a valuable service designed to safeguard identities and confidential information, it also has environmental benefits too. Instead of throwing away pounds and pounds of papers, the shredded materials are sold to business partners to be recycled. Shredding services are a part of Pollak Training Center.

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Training and employment opportunities for adults with I/DD. Program participants have opportunities to earn an income and develop marketable job skills through the fabrication of plant sleeves, survey stakes and concrete products; or through one of our subcontracting partnerships.
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The Pollak Training Center (PTC) provides services that focus on helping adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities reach their full potential, whether it is in the community or the classroom.
Connects program participants with employment throughout the community at locations such as the I-10 Welcome Center, the I-10 weigh stations, and Armstrong World Industries.
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Participants cut, label and package each sample of Armstrong’s commercial and residential ceiling tiles before they are wrapped and shipped nationwide. Samples are sent to architectural firms, interior designers and suppliers all over the world.

Growing

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Through Pearl Nelson therapy services, children improve their motor skills, sensory, self-help, speech and language development; and parents learn ways to support this development at home. Physical, occupational and speech therapies must be prescribed by the child’s primary care provider.

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Services are provided in the home, childcare setting, in the community or at the Pearl Nelson Center based upon the needs of the child and goals identified in their Individualized Family Support Plan.

Want to get involved?

Becoming a member or volunteer at The Arc Gateway strengthens our presence as advocates for continued funding and legislation that benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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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 

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.