Jacksonville News

Photo by Member Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo

Photo by Member Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo


Date ArticleType
9/17/2023 4:00:00 AM Member News

The Arc Jacksonville Announces Official Launch of Specialized Aging Support Program

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in celebration on September 15 at the nonprofit organization’s new state-of-the-art facility: The Kimberly Smoak Pommer Day Center

Jacksonville, Fla. –– September 15, 2023 –– The Arc Jacksonville is celebrating the official launch of its new program Specialized Aging Support (SAS) –– Dementia Services for People with Intellectual and Developmental Differences (IDD). The three-year pilot program, first announced in fall 2022, aids individuals with IDD who face the challenges of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias on the First Coast, as well as their caregivers. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on September 15 ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21 at the nonprofit organization’s new state-of-the-art Kimberly Smoak Pommer Day Center, which will serve as the dedicated space for SAS programs. 


Representatives and speakers included:

Kari Bates, The Arc Jacksonville President and CEO

Buck Smoak, Director of Business Development at Auld & White Constructors and Member of The Arc Jacksonville’s Board of Directors and Specialized Aging Support Advisory Committee

Dr. Robert Zeglin, Chair of The Arc Jacksonville’s Board of Directors, Assistant Professor at University of North Florida

Debbie Revels, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville

Taylor Hatch, Director of the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities 


The program provides occupational therapy-based support for individuals who live with IDD and/or are at high risk of Alzheimer's disease-related dementia (ADRD) who live alone or with a caregiver. Program services aim to extend independence through sensory, occupational and other wellness therapies, and provide respite for family and caretakers. Additional services include caregiver training, aid in developing specific intervention methods to help manage dementia symptoms, screening for risk factors and other therapeutic programming and activities for clients. Additionally, as a result of a three-year federal grant totaling almost $1 million from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, this program has been launched as a guidepost for replication nationwide. 


“My family and I can personally attest to the importance and necessity of the resources that the Specialized Aging Support program will provide,” said Buck Smoak, Member of The Arc Jacksonville’s Board of Directors. “My sister Kimberly Smoak, who had Down syndrome and early onset Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia, grew up during a time where doctors advised parents to institutionalize their children with IDD. Our family took a different path, despite few community resources at the time, and supported her in achieving an independent life – and Kimberly did just that.”

Kimberly Smoak was one of the first members of Northeast Florida’s IDD community to gain employment in the workforce, to marry and live independently – but as she reached the age of 50, she began to develop ADRD. The dementia progressed to personality changes and regression. The Smoak family struggled to find support and care, as many memory care facilities turned Kimberly away due to her Down syndrome and early onset diagnosis. In honor of Kimberly’s legacy of defying expectations and the tremendous support that her family demonstrated throughout her life, the SAS facility has been named the Kimberly Smoak Pommer Day Center. The center provides on-site services and features a sensory space, fitness area, simulated home kitchen, functional therapy room and comfortable group support spaces. 

Operating as a nonprofit organization, The Arc Jacksonville serves and advocates for individuals with IDD to achieve their full potential and participate in an active community life. The Arc Jacksonville’s programs serve adults with IDD from the transition period (ages 18-22) through the aging population. Through this program expansion, The Arc Jacksonville can reach individuals and families who may not already be receiving services.

“We are eager to launch this program and expand our services to further support individuals living with IDD, Alzeimer’s disease and dementia, in addition to their families and caregivers who dedicate so much time and compassion to their loved ones,” said Kari Bates, President & CEO of The Arc Jacksonville. “Thank you to the many individuals whose generous support have helped to make this possible. We are honored to be partnering with you all in celebrating this monumental milestone for our community and cannot wait to witness firsthand the benefits of which Specialized Aging Support will provide to those who need it.”

Funding for this program was provided by the Department of Health & Human Services Administration For Community Living, Baptist Health and Oakwell Companies. Additional program partners include the Alzheimer’s Association, Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, ElderSource and Mayo Clinic.

To learn more about the Specialized Aging Support Program, The Arc Jacksonville or to find support for yourself or someone you know, email sas@arcjacksonville.org, call 904-779-3135 or visit arc jacksonville.org/sas


About The Arc Jacksonville:

The Arc Jacksonville serves and advocates for individuals with intellectual and developmental differences to achieve their full potential and to participate in community life. Through incredible partnerships within the Northeast Florida community, The Arc Jacksonville, a local nonprofit, provides a full complement of residential, educational, training, work readiness, employment, mental health, and community inclusion initiatives.