Lake County DAC celebrates 50-plus years of progress 

Lake County DAC celebrates 50-plus years of progress 

by Kitty Mayo, Lake County Press 

The Lake County Developmental Activity Center (LCDAC) was finally able to hold a community celebration to commemorate its 50th anniversary of serving Lake County. LCDAC moved to Two Harbors about five years ago seeking more space, after spending 45 years based in Knife River. 

The anniversary celebration was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The LCDAC is a private nonprofit organization that provides home and community-based services to adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. 

Michelle McDonald, LCDAC executive director, said the individuals they serve are an integral part of the community and economy as many work in supportive roles at grocery stores, gas stations and assisted living facilities in Two Harbors, Knife River and Duluth. 

On-site, some individuals carry on with what McDonald calls their “legacy” services, such as rug weaving from donated fabrics, and confidential document shredding for community members. “It is a wonderful way to invite people in visit us at our building, and when people buy the rugs they go on to tell a story. They may end up in someone’s kitchen, and the owner may remember and share who made it,” said McDonald. 

Other activities the LCDAC coordinates include volunteering at the library, school, and food shelf, along with the communication club and other activities. 

“We quietly turned 50 last fall, and now this is our opportunity to thank the community and everyone who has supported us,” said McDonald. 

Lake County DAC timeline 

*Mid-1950s A small group of parents meets at Bethlehem House in Two Harbors to provide activities for their three children. There were no services for adults with disabilities in Lake County.  

*1963 The Minnesota Legislature takes action allowing for formation of day activity centers, launching organization of the Lake/Cook County Association for Retarded Citizens. 

*September 1970 A $60 gift to the ARC funds the first adult programs under direction of then-President Delores Johnson. 

*December 1970 The first Lake County DAC board of directors is formed. 

*1971 the DAC is incorporated. An executive director is hired. The former Knife River school house is acquired though state grants and the center officially opens on September 13 with six participants. 

1970s Daily programming is provided, on a schedule coinciding with the Lake County school system. 

*1980s Programs include a vocational component to meet the Minnesota definition of a day training program. The name is changed to Lake County Developmental Achievement Center, Inc. 

*1980s Institutions that housed people with development disabilities close and are replaced by smaller residential programs. More people return to their communities, needing jobs and services. Advertising buttons and badges, and flags for in-ground utility work are created. 

*1985 The DAC Chore Crew starts providing lawn care and snow removal services. 

*1986 DAC workers are employed at the new Arrowhead Recycling Center in Two Harbors. 

*1990s Outside and in-house work are supplemented through Minnesota Community Integration Association training to provide community supported employment. More job opportunities are provided, including with Duluth-area agencies Pinewood, Inc. and UDAC, Inc. 

*2000s A growing number of aging clients means starting the “alternative to work” program, offering a wide variety of daily activities along with needed medical therapies. 

*2016 A new location opens in Two Harbors. 

Information for this story is also from the Lake County DAC web site.