Strains of “Mustang Sally” nearly bolted out of the room at the Hilton Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek on Dec. 11 as Less More and the In-betweens played for the luncheon attendees. The band, consisting of drums, keyboard, harmonica, tambourine and maracas, is part of the Arc Angel Performers who play, sing and dance not only for themselves but for audiences around the Verde Valley and Sedona.
Following the band were the Rockin’ Roll Santa and Elves who danced to Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash,” and the Arc Angel Choir sang, “Deck the Halls” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Everyone wore costumes in Christmas red and green, even red and white striped stockings, and elf hats. The girls wore felt skirts and the guys wore red suspenders.
“Everything they do at the Arc is special, and Jennifer [Schauffler-Vircsik] is such a wonderful guide for the performing group,” Cynthia Fox said. “They put their heart and soul into performing.”
Fox, former president of the Verde Valley Concert Association, said she is unaware of any other group that does as much for a community’s challenged residents as YES the Arc.
“Years ago these wonderful, talented people would have been put in an institution
and forgotten. At the Arc they learn, make crafts and perform. It’s amazing how much talent they have,” she said. The performers have occasionally opened for the association’s concerts.
YES the Arc began in 1974 as a school for developmentally challenged children. It expanded into serving adults in 1975, and in 1981 the children’s program became a part of the public school system.
YES the Arc offers programs and services that support and enhance client independence, self-esteem, mutual respect, value and dignity. It was founded on the belief that all people are capable of growth and learning. It is the goal of the Arc to provide training and opportunities that will maximize growth toward the greatest independence possible for each individual.
Ryan Cheek plays tambourine with the band. This is his first year coming to the Arc after moving from Tucson. His favorite thing to do is hang with the band members.
“We have a lot in common, and I have a gift for music,” Cheek said as he took a bite of cheesecake. “We worked hard since August but it was worth it.”
The annual luncheon celebrated YES the Arc’s 35th anniversary as well as recognizing individuals, businesses and organizations with special awards for their support. YES the Arc director and founder Penny Vigil announced the awards with the help of Vicki Jo Anderson, president of the board of directors.
“We, like everyone, have had to make cuts this year. Our staff came up and volunteered. They actually cut their own hours. That was very generous of them to help keep our programs going,” Vigil said. “You have to have a good team and I think we have a very good team.”
Receiving a special recognition plaque, a thank you and hearty handshake, which included many hugs, were Precious Stones Preschool, Bobbie Garcia with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens, Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity, Reese’s Tire and Auto Center, Trophies Unlimited, Yavapai County facilities department, Dr. Juneau Stump and Michele Fuller.
Special awardees were Nancy James, YES the Arc’s Board of Directors secretary; David Gordon, a board member; Donald McCulloch, a client, and Amanda Hunnicutt, also a board member and client.
Employee awardees included Nidia Martinez, Michael Taylor, Jacquelyn Weber, Lisa Wilson and Robert Young.