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2017-01-27 / Top 100 People

Bellamarie Bregar

Executive Director

Acres Project

Bella Bregar grew up in a large Italian Family in Skaneateles, New York. From the time she was eight years old, she knew that she wanted to be a teacher. It broke her heart to see kids left out because they were different.

“I wanted to make sure kids felt loved, safe, and received the support they needed,” she said.

Bregar graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in special education. Her 38 years of teaching ranged from kindergarten through high school in a variety of classroom environments. While at Park Forest Junior High School, her student Matt introduced her to the Special Olympics. Bregar started out as a ski coach and later became manager for Centre County.

Currently, Bregar is the executive director of the Acres Project, a residential and day community designed to foster independence, self-advocacy and entrepreneurship for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.

She was hesitant at first to believe she could be the one to found the project.

“The need to start a support center, an oasis for families and individuals, kept me up at night for many years... It took many years of dreaming, planning and visualizing a solution in my head before I realized, “If not me, then who?” Someone must take that first step. Don’t be afraid to be that one person,” she said

Bregar believes her family is her biggest blessing. She loves spending time with her husband Mark, two children, Bellamarie and Justin, son-in-law Dan and three grandchildren, Isabella, and twins Owen and Lucas.

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