THE success story that is Tumut’s Valmar Support Services is about to celebrate its 50th birthday.
The disability service began with six children and some caring parents in 1966, and now has branches in Canberra, Queanbeyan, Yass, Lockhart and Griffith, and of course the head office in Tumut.
However, it isn’t the size of the organisation that is most pleasing to CEO Hugh Packard, but the difference it has made in so many lives.
“It’s the number of lives touched, the benefits to clients and their families, the pride of staff,” he said.
“We have been asked so many times to set up group homes and offices in different places, which is acknowledging that what we do works.”
Valmar is the largest Tumut-based employer, employing 400 people.
The service will hold a celebratory lunch and disco next Wednesday, and then a formal dinner at Tumut Golf Club next Thursday night.
The dinner will be attended by 80 people, including Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly and other invited dignitaries.
Valmar began when a small band of parents with disabled small children started a playgroup and preschool in the former Tumut Maternity Hospital on October 13, 1966.
“There were six children originally and we still support two of them,” Mr Packard said.
It expanded to cater for special school children.
“As the kids grew up, the school grew up with them,” Mr Packard said.
It became an adult disability organisation, which also cares for elderly members of the community, providing a wide range of services and transport.
“It continuously changed to meet needs,” Mr Packard said. “The needs of very young children and school children are being met by other organisations, and we are solely for adult services now.”