About Us

In the late 1950s, care, education, and basic human rights for people with disabilities were limited and scarce. Parents were encouraged to institutionalize children with any disability, and for many disabled people, spending their whole lives in asylums and institutions was the norm. Families who chose to keep their families intact faced incredible challenges, as information and services were extremely difficult to access when they existed at all. It was out of this environment that a group of families in Washington County turned to their own resourcefulness and resilience to build better opportunities for their children, and in October of 1959, our organization, at the time the first school for children with disabilities in the area, was founded. In November, the Beaverton Kiwanis Club donated the land and construction for the facility previously known as The Arc of Washington County, today Imagine Possibilities.

With only one paid staff member at the time, parents and community members volunteered at the school to teach classes, dig ditches, make repairs, and create a community where families could come together for support, education, and celebration around their children. The founding families were instrumental in many firsts within the community for children and adults with disabilities. They organized to bring the Special Olympics to Washington County with retired Blazers as coaches. They were key players in changing laws, pressuring the school system for better educational opportunities, creating training programs, and establishing group homes. Many of the people that drove these advancements in the early years are still, to this day, working hard to ensure progress doesn’t stop within the disability world.

This history is one we are proud to continue. Imagine Possibilities is committed to celebrating the progressive spirit of the founders, working to strengthen the beautiful and safe community we make up and to ensure it is connected deeply to all of Washington County.

On October 1, 2012, Imagine Possibilities disaffiliated from the national Arc organization, which we had been a part of since 1959. When we were founded, operating as one part of a larger organization gave us a greater sense of legitimacy and a network of like-minded groups to align ourselves with. However, eventually we felt that our mission of direct support had diverged from the national Arc’s focus as an advocacy organization, and decided we wanted a name of our own to distinguish ourselves and our specific goals. We chose the name Imagine Possibilities to remind ourselves of our mission: to imagine a lifetime of possibilities for people of all abilities.

That change of name coincided with exciting changes at our campus. With a growing emphasis on promoting community life for our participants has come a bigger team and more opportunities. Since January of 2015 we have more than doubled the number of individuals we serve, and added exciting programs such as social work, yoga, and an extensive social skills training initiative that allows every participant in the program to try new activities and learn to express themselves more completely both in the greater community and among their friends and peers.

Some changes have been obvious. In 2015 we had one van and it could not accommodate wheelchairs. Today we have three vans adapted to transport wheelchairs and two other vehicles. As a result of this expansion, our participants go on over two hundred adventures and excursions per month. We have a sensory garden with adapted trails that provides joy, comfort and inspiration to everyone who attends the program, works here or visits the campus. 

Other changes have been more subtle. Participants take an active role in choosing and planning activities and groups. Our social work team is available to help participants navigate the ups and downs of life, jobs, relationships and the complicated feelings that come with growing and learning new skills. 

One thing has remained a constant: we are a place built by and for families. To this day, over half our Board of Directors are parents and relatives of participants. Family takes many forms, and we are always excited for new participants and loved ones to join our program and mission.

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