Expanding and modernizing the Chapel Haven campus to accommodate adults through the life span was celebrated in style during Chapel Haven Family Weekend.
Dozens of families and Chapel Haven adults turned out to tour the ongoing construction of the new REACH residential and classroom campus. Bob Malavasi and Chris Dittrich of the S/L/A/M Collaborative passed around hard hats and guided visitors around the first floor of the new building, showing off classroom space and the new student lounge. Everyone had fun enjoying light refreshments, viewing architects’ renderings and exploring Chapel Haven’s new Welcome Center with CH President Michael Storz while they waited for a tour. The REACH building will be ready for occupancy in July 2018, just in time for our new incoming cohort of students!
Overflowing crowd @ Chapel Haven Family Brunch
Chapel Haven’s Family Brunch drew an overflow crowd of more than 400 families, staff and friends, with overwhelming excitement and support for Chapel Haven’s expansion.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy was introduced by Chapel Haven Community Member Rick Savard, who served as emcee for the event and did a fabulous job, introducing a host of guest speakers.
Senator Murphy applauded Chapel Haven’s vision, of serving adults as they age with a vibrant community expansion that will accomplish that goal.
“I want to say thank you for really having this vision. You’ve decided to expand your services, build new facilities, and get involved at a greater level with this issue of people with cognitive disabilities aging and needing a higher level of support. It’s probably the primary concern expressed to me by caregivers – what happens as my child or sibling gets older. You’ve decided to do more. And the federal and state government needs to do more to help you in that endeavor.”
Other speakers included Peggy Baker, a Chapel Haven parent and Chair of Chapel Haven’s Board of Directors, parent and board member Harriet Schleifer and Chapel Haven adult Keith Atkins. Paul Baldinger and Daniel Granniss of the S/L/A/M Collaborative gave the crowd a peek at the next steps in the expansion.
In a popular feature, four Chapel Haven adults were inducted into the “30-Year Club,” an annual tradition in which Chapel Haven honors individuals who lived in the CH community with independence for 30 years. This year’s honorees were David Hogin, Lisa Nova, Keith Atkins and Rich LaManna.
David drew applause from the crowd after noting that he worked for 18 years for Stop & Shop. “David also earned his high school diploma in 1991, after attending classes for almost three years,” Chapel Haven President Michael Storz said to applause from an appreciative audience. Today, David lives independently in a condo a stone’s throw from Chapel Haven with longtime friend Rick Savard.
Lisa came to Chapel Haven in 1988 after graduating from Riverview School. She has enjoyed learning how to balance her checkbook, maintain an apartment and grocery shop independently. She has enjoyed working at places like Harold’s and volunteering at the Jewish Home for the Aged. Currently she is part of Chapel Haven’s UARTS program and loves it!
Keith came to Chapel Haven from Marlborough, MA in 1984 and admits he was nervous moving to the City from the Berkshire Mountains. He wanted to find a girlfriend and start dating and he did – going steady for 23 years. Keith has enjoyed a variety of jobs and prides himself by taking the bus independently and always being on time. He also has enjoyed staying within his budget. Keith is a master weaver for the UARTS program and also works at the Groton sub base.
Rich came to Chapel Haven after graduating Foran High School in 1986. He came to Chapel Haven to learn how to live on his own but gained so much more, including meeting and marrying his current wife, Kim LaManna at Chapel Haven.
Chapel Haven President Michael Storz drew laughs when he presented the award to Rich.
“I recall the day when I said to Rich, ‘you know, Rich…if you go ahead and get married, you risk losing your hair.’ Clearly I was speaking from experience!”
Today, Rich manages Chapel Haven’s cafe full-time and loves the work! He has his food services license and also enjoys a range of fun hobbies and activities at Chapel Haven, including martial arts and photography.
Chapel Haven President Michael Storz wanted the families to know that Chapel Haven “has not forgotten about programming. We are developing a new program that will motivate our adults to exercise and eat healthier Because an investment in their health and happiness is a priceless investment in the quality of their lives.” Chapel Haven is working with experts in the field of fitness and wellness, including NFL pro bowler Art Still, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, and Greg Justice, recently inducted into the Fitness Hall of Fame and an international best-selling author, speaker, and fitness entrepreneur.
Along with honoring the 30-year inductees, several Chapel Haven parents spoke passionately about all the work that is going into the expansion.
Board Chair Peggy Baker celebrated the incredible progress that has been made since the 2017 brunch, including completion of a new Welcome Center and near completion on the new REACH classroom and residential campus.
“A year ago, we were celebrating a campus expansion that had not yet even broken ground,” she said. “We viewed beautiful renderings by our architectural team from S/L/A/M and talked in global terms about a grand vision – to remake our campus into a world-class destination, where our loved ones can live happy and self-empowered lives…Today, we’re no longer talking about that vision. We are literally seeing it take shape before our very eyes.”
Harriet Schleifer, a parent and board member who, with her husband Len and son David, have been early investors in Chapel Haven’s campus expansion, called the project “extraordinary.”
“Together, we have raised $36.5 million for a campaign that is from the heart. We want to make Chapel Haven a lifelong home and build a campus that honors our students,” she said. She urged every family to make a contribution, no matter the size. “It is my hope that the updated campus renderings, our community of donors and our adults themselves will inspire you to join us in supporting the campaign to build a new Chapel Haven. We will make the dream a reality.”