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The 12 Chapters Project

Chapter One

Why Does Stone Belt Need To Exist?
We believe in the uniqueness, worth and right to self-determination of every individual. For almost 60 years, Stone Belt has empowered individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to have a voice, a sense of belonging and a chance to realize their dreams. In partnership with the community, the pathway to self-actualization has been built for thousands of people served.
Clients and their families have benefited by the work that was begun by a few families in the late 1950s. Stone Belt’s founders envisioned a better future for people with disabilities. Carolyn, Bob and Terry (shown at right) are living examples of their vision. Today, Stone Belt supports thousands of individuals, helps them to positively impact the community in myriad ways and serves as a leader in the field. We are grateful that those families and their community supporters took those first steps to making Stone Belt Arc Inc. a reality.
Stone Belt staff Shannon McCann talks about why Stone Belt needs to exist and why community living allows clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live fuller lives than institutional living.
Lifelong Learning coordinator Tyler Frazee talks about giving Stone Belt clients a voice and being a voice to those who do not have one.

We asked our constituents what words come to mind when they think about why organizations like Stone Belt need to exist. This word cloud represents their answers.

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Carolyn Abbitt, Bob Smith and Terry Simpson are three of the original Stone Belt clients.
Here are their stories:

Carolyn Abbitt

Carolyn Abbitt


While Carolyn Abbitt was attending Stone Belt
programs, she lived at home with her family. In

1987, she moved to Kirkwood House, a Stone
Belt group home. Her mother, Venus, expressed

surprise that Carolyn was so ready to take her first
steps toward independence when she was offered
the opportunity to try group living. Later, Carolyn
was one of the first Stone Belt clients to transition
into supported living, where she would share her
own leased apartment with another housemate.
Over the years, Carolyn worked in the community,
including a highly successful 11-year tenure at
McDonalds. She currently works in Stone Belt’s
life science manufacturing facility part-time. About
10 years ago, Stone Belt helped Carolyn discover
her immense talent as a studio artist. She is the
number-one-selling artist in Stone Belt’s
successful art program.
Bob Smith

Bob Smith


Robert “Bob” Smith, son of Dr. Roscoe Russell
and Mary Ann Smith, lived at home with his
parents and attended the Stone Belt School.
Like the Abbitts, Bob’s family was instrumental
in helping form Stone Belt. When his parents
died, Bob moved into one of Stone Belt’s early
group homes located in what is now the Indiana
Institute for Disability and Community, near the
10th Street location in Bloomington. When Stone
Belt opened Hite House in 1986, Bob and five
housemates moved into a beautiful tri-level house.
After Bob completed school, he participated in the
adult programs offered by Stone Belt. Recently
Bob moved to Miller House, a single-level house
that accommodates his physical needs. He enjoys
spending time with peers in his Lifelong Learning
classroom and gets out frequently with his housemates.
Terry Simpson

Terry Simpson


Terry Simpson remembers going to the
Headley School, the first facility Stone
Belt operated. The parents' group at the
school often had chili suppers and rummage
sales to support the school. Terry also
remembers the classrooms moving into the
Stone Belt Comprehensive Center, now simply
called Stone Belt, in 1971. Like Bob, Terry
also lived at Hite House, but showed the ability
to live more independently. He vividly remembers
what Stone Belt used to look like, recalling the
childcare classrooms that lined the halls. 
Today, he lives on his own with intermittent
support from Stone Belt staff. He has worked
for the Crazy Horse restaurant since 2000 and
has many friends throughout the community.
The friendships Terry has gained from his time
at Stone Belt are what have been most
meaningful to him. 
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