A heritage of making life better for others
While going to college to earn a degree in special education, Wes Delbridge worked summer jobs at the Arizona Training Program-Coolidge (ATPC). Once known as The Children’s Colony, ATPC is a State Operated Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, overseen by the DES Division of Developmental Disabilities. That experience beginning in 1975 led to a full-time teacher’s position for Wes in 1978. Forty-two years later, he’s still there today. Wes and his son, Wesley.
As a child, young Wesley would visit the ATPC campus with his mother and sister. “I’ve been coming out here since I was a little kid,” said Wesley. “I got to know a lot of the clients, a lot of the members. [ATPC has] been part of my life since I can remember.”
Wes supervises three program areas: contract work, horticulture, and a former candle shop. “These are programs where the individuals out here can go to work and earn a little bit of money,” said Wes. “Now they’re aging out, so it’s becoming more of a day program. Kind of a senior citizens type of place where they can come … and do different types of activities.”
“I enjoy working with the individuals out here and just enjoyed the environment. What we did for these people who needed help, I just really enjoyed it. As the years went by, I got attached. Basically now, they’re like family.”
Wes’ son, Wesley Delbridge II, is the dietician at ATPC. When asked what inspired him to go into his field, Wesley said, “I saw how much [of] an impact nutrition can make in people’s lives.” He explained how many people have medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. “I realized the power of food… [and] saw that if you intervene nutritionally, you can have a huge impact. There’s a lot of misinformation out there as far as nutrition goes and I wanted to bring real scientific information to that and help people feel better, live longer….so it really inspired me.”
Over the years, there have been many changes at ATPC. “They’re doing their best and trying to make this place better,” said Wes. “I’ve seen a lot of improvements in this facility, which is very good.”
Wesley added, “The current leadership … [has] implemented some great things in taking care of the clients. We’re seeing them prosper and putting a lot of effort into it. Right now, I’m revamping the whole menu that they’ve been using for a very long time now. They’re investing in high quality food, high quality nutrition, making sure that it’s presented well. It’s been very good. It’s challenging, but it’s been very rewarding.”
To sum up the Delbridge legacy, Wes said, “The goal for my Dad and myself is just to make the clients’ lives better, make them happy, healthy and just living the best life that they can. That’s what motivates both of us.”
Wesley Delbridge (left) and his father, Wes, stand outside the entrance of the J. Thomas McIntire administration building at ATPC.
By Lyn Riley