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Genesee ARC holds open house at new facility at former St. Mary's School

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee ARC introduced its new Community Center tonight in a special program that included an art exhibit by ARC clients and a presentation on the organizations fundraising campaign.

Genesee ARC acquired the former St. Mary's School at 38 Woodrow Road, Batavia, two years ago and is in the process of completely remodeling the facility to meet the needs of clients and families.

The project will cost more than $1.4 million, with $750,000 of the funds necessary for the project coming from private donations. So far, 59 percent of the total has been raised, and Genesee ARC is looking for other community members to step forward and help with the fundraising drive.

Tom Houseknecht and his wife Lynn are co-chairs of the campaign. The Houseknecht family has been involved with Genesee ARC from its earliest days. Tom's parents, Ralph and Agnes, lost a developmentally disabled child who was 3 years old and realized the need to support families with developmentally disabled children. The entire Houseknecht family has been involved in supporting Genesee ARC for nearly 35 years.

"We have received much more than we have given, as we have all experienced the special gifts of these individuals and the families that ARC serves," Tom Houseknecht said.

The new facility will offer a culinary arts program, a creative arts room, family support services, recreation and physical fitness and a resource center.

Tonight's program included a showing of art work by several Genesee ARC clients. The featured artist was Henry James Stratton II (pictured below), also known as "Hank," or, in Challenger Baseball season, "Hammerin' Hank."  Hank likes to paint super heroes and villains, but his 11-piece exhibit included a sunset, a zoom mobile and a birthday bonanza.

Several of the artists wanted to have their pictures taken tonight. Please take a moment to click the "read more" link below to see the pictures of these artists and their works.

Joe Gear and his piece, "America."

John Brown with "Train Going Into Station" and "Train With Smoke." John made the wooden frames.

Mary Abella with her son Vincenzo Falcone and his piece, "John 3:16."

Kathy Gartz with "Butterlies."

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