REACH grew out of the dream of a group of local families who wanted to organize activities for their children with disabilities. In 1977, REACH opened its doors in the basement of the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Juneau. What started out as a small, family-run group meeting in a church basement has developed into an agency now supporting 400 individuals and families with nearly 300 employees.
REACH, Inc. honors and respects the people we serve by promoting choice and well-being through advocacy and services.
REACH is committed to creating communities free of barriers for people with disabilities.
In 1984 REACH developed Ready Mail, a bulk-mail business, as a sheltered workshop. In 1985 REACH employed people with disabilities to clean the KTOO building as part of a vocational program and in 1987 the Custodial program began with a contract to clean the Federal Building. This program eventually expanded its contracts to state and federal facilities in Juneau as well as Ketchikan, Sitka and Skagway. In 1981, REACH’s first assisted living home opened as a result of a major gift to the organization. Thereafter in the 1980s, REACH opened two more group homes for adults and children with developmental disabilities.In 1988, the Infant Learning Program and Respite were added to the REACH umbrella. The Infant Learning program has since expanded to serving small communities in northern Southeast Alaska. In 1989 REACH started the Independent Living Program.
In the 1990s, following national trends, REACH closed its two children’s group homes and replaced those services with home-based support so children could live with their families.
Also in the 1990s, the State of Alaska changed the way it addressed the needs of people with disabilities through the Medicaid program, providing individualized funding and more security to those covered. Accordingly, in1994, REACH secured Medicaid and Medicare certification to provide services under a Home and Community-Based Care Waiver which “waived” the need for services to be provided in an institution.
Again, responding to national trends, in May 2002 REACH closed its bulk-mail sheltered workshop and shifted focus to supporting community-based employment. REACH is continuing to focus on community employment as well as other opportunities for the people we support to engage and pursue meaningful relationships and community involvement. Trends on the horizon include using technology to further increase independence and choice in the lives of people with disabilities.