Non-profit Spotlight: Polk Training Center in Lake Alfred
Polk Training Center for Handicapped Citizens, Inc. (PTC) was started in 1986 by a group of parents who were concerned about their sons and daughters not having a meaningful life after graduating. An adult school for developmentally disabled adults with 16 students and two teachers was established as a training center and nursery on the grounds of the school. In the early 1990s several grants allowed the purchase of property on Highway 557, just north of Lake Alfred, where the current nursery and Polk Training Center is located, at 111 Creek Rd., Lake Alfred. We currently have 26 current students and two teachers.
The nursery is open to the public from Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays We are closed Sunday and Monday
Hundreds of plants and trees are available for purchase, including annuals, bedding plants, perennials, vines, hedges, shrubs, shade and flowering trees, and citrus and other fruit trees. Gardening supplies are also available.
PTC also supports itself by providing landscape design, installation, and refurbishment services. A Florida-friendly demonstration garden on our property is one of 15 in the county, maintained by Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program.
The Center’s board of directors, along with the executive director, has adopted a new initiative in a newly created and organized strategic plan that is proving successful. We have restructured our board with new goals and processes for an improved future. With new business and generous donations these initiatives are proving most effective the last two years with small, but positive income balance. We continue to expand our business as well as help others.
Currently, we have reached out to help the Polk County School System. We jointly developed a current Transition Program housed and supported at our facility. This partnership vastly increases the training for high school students, thus furthering their skills and abilities for future job opportunities.
“Get Growing!” Community Garden, our newest venture, will operate under the direction of Polk Training Center’s endeavor to help give back to the community. This will be open to all community members who want to have the opportunity to grow produce and/or flowers while growing relationships with others. PTC cultivates individual growth and neighborhood unity in training adults who are developmentally disabled, and through public business with a Garden Center, Nursery, and Landscaping. As our community has helped us, we want to lend a hand back to our community in gardening and education through a community garden.
Polk Training Center has an open enrollment for those adults who meet the criteria of the organization. Students are given life skill instruction and trained to work in a plant nursery and landscaping. They also earn wages while working. If you are aware of a student with development disabilities interested in attending a Transition Class or our organization onsite in Lake Alfred, please contact us at 863-956-1620. For more info visit PolkTrainingCenter.org.