New Horizons began its disability problem solving in 1992 when founded by a handful of volunteers in the Prescott area. They knew they wanted to make a dent in serving the unmet needs of individuals with disabilities living in rural areas, but they didn’t know how. In 1993, it began to become clear that traditional service models were not the way they wanted to go, but Independent Living was. In October of 1994, these volunteers, a majority of them with disabilities themselves, received a vote of confidence from the Federal Government with a five-year commitment of $103,000 per year.
This grant covered basic expenses and specified a responsibility for continuing and expanding Independent Living services throughout the rural counties of Mohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Navajo and Apache counties, 59,000 square miles, an area larger than the entire state of Pennsylvania! It was a big upward responsibility shift for a little New Horizons, but not impossible.
In 2001, New Horizons began its long partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation. Through a rigorous grant process New Horizons was able to procure two vehicles that almost instantly became one of the cornerstones of our organization. Our founders and board of directors understood that one of the biggest struggles for people who are trying to live independently was and still is transportation. Since 2001, New Horizons has grown into the model of what a non-profit transportation system should look like. We now have 18 vehicles which travel over 400,000 miles a year providing people who lack mobility a chance to be a part of our growing community.
In 2015 the New Horizons received the biggest donation it had ever received. A very generous man donated a 10,000 square foot commercial building to us and it has changed everything. We renovated the building to meet our needs and created central and northern Arizona’s first ever Disability Empowerment Campus. We now have the space to provide a disability fitness center, a fully adaptive computer lab, and are working towards raising the funds to create a wheelchair friendly outdoor sports court! These three services are just additions to our other services, which we have more than enough room to do now.
After our relocation to our new campus, New Horizons decided that building an island of service wasn’t the best way to serve the disabled people in our community. We reached out to other philanthropic organizations in our area and created partnerships. This has allowed New Horizons to create the first Veteran’s Service Center in Prescott Valley Arizona with the American Legion, and a new In-Home Health Care Program with our sister organization Ability360.
Guided by the proven, unstoppable Independent Living philosophy, and aided by eager peer mentor volunteers, helping others to move across the usual dividing lines of disability, New Horizons will succeed!