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Doni Martin: Doni Martin Center for Developmental Services - Pocahontas.

"What I love most is seeing individuals with disabilities succeed," said Doni Martin, CEO of The Doni Martin Center for Developmental Services in Pocahontas.

Martin has been assisting individuals with developmental disabilities for the past 39 years. But she can trace her urge to help all the way back to her senior year of high school. "I volunteered in a kindergarten class and did individual work with three children; one with a physical disability, one with an intellectual disability and one that was gifted," she said. "After that, I was hooked."

Martin graduated from Augustana College in 1971 with bachelor's degrees in special and elementary education, after which she came to Arkansas as a VISTA volunteer (now called Americorp) and was assigned to the Black River Area Development Corporation (BRAD). BRAD supervises Head Start, among other programs.

"I worked out in the community with low income individuals," she said. "I met people who had children with disabilities, and they were not getting good educational services."

So when the opportunity to help establish the Pocahontas Day Service Center for those with developmental disabilities arose in 1972, Martin "jumped at the chance."

Over the years, the program has expanded from providing day services to nine individuals for half days to now serving 75 individuals with more than a dozen programs in all or part of three counties, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During the center's four decade history, Martin has served as its CEO. Her work is so esteemed, that in 2008, the board voted to change the center's name from the Pocahontas Day Service Center, to the Doni Martin Center for Developmental Services, also reflecting changes in the types of services offered and the increased service area.

Martin said her success is tied to a high level of community support and her own determination to treat "individuals with developmental disabilities as the wonderful, equal persons that they are"

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Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Sep 26, 2011
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