501 Life Magazine | Price retires from CHDC
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Price retires from CHDC

Story and photos
by Linda Henderson

Retirement is a big milestone in an individual’s life. It is an even bigger milestone to an organization when the person retiring has been the leader for more than 13 years. Calvin Price, superintendent of the Conway Human Development Center (CHDC), will be retiring in August.

The CHDC opened its doors to admit its first client in 1959. At the time, it was the Arkansas Children’s Colony. CHDC is the first and largest of the five Arkansas residential facilities for people with developmental disabilities. Approximately 1,200 staff support 478 people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, many of whom also have physical disabilities.

Under Calvin’s leadership, the Center has faced many challenges, including eight years of U.S. Department of Justice investigations, a federal lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice and ultimately a favorable ruling and dismissal of the lawsuit.

Price started working at the center in March 1979. He began his career as a recreation activity leader. During his long years of service, he has held many positions, including program coordinator, team leader, administrative specialist in quality assurance, special education supervisor, supplemental services director, medical administrator, assistant superintendent and then superintendent. He also served as acting superintendent at the Arkadelphia, Booneville and Alexander centers.

Price is extremely proud of CHDC and all that it accomplished on a daily basis.

“The wonderful employees at this center work extremely hard each day to make life better for the individuals that live here and the families who place their trust in us,” he said. “However, the thing that sticks out most in my memory and one I will always cherish is our center’s victory over the Department of Justice. That was a 10-year battle that brought out the very best of CHDC staff and parents.”

Price recounts that the most rewarding thing about working at the center is the staff and what they do. “Each day hundreds of staff do remarkable things and provide a very special service to some very special people, and they do it because they believe they make each day a little better than the day before for our individuals,” he said. “They don’t win awards or have their names in the newspaper; they do it because they make a difference in the lives of people with some very special needs.”

Price’s future plans are to spend more time with his family. He has been married to his wife, Anita, for 45 years. They have two children, Melissa, a special education teacher at a youth home, Joseph, a mental health paraprofessional at Path Finders, a daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and a new granddaughter, Stella Grace. He reports that spending time with and spoiling Stella Grace is his primary reason for retiring.

“For me this has never been a job,” he said. “I cannot recall very many days in 36 years I did not enjoy coming to work and doing what I do. It is something I feel I was placed on this earth to do. God has granted me the good fortune to be surrounded by the best people on earth for 36 years.

“I’m surrounded each day by individuals who love you unconditionally for who you are — some of my best friends are our residents. I have also been a very fortunate administrator to be surrounded by such a talented group of employees for so many years. My heart will always have a special place for CHDC. I think most of the general public doesn’t realize the wonderful work and lives that are changed here.”