In 1972, in a modest multi-family house on Chapel Street in New Haven, Chapel Haven Schleifer Center (CHSC) opened its doors.
Founded by the visionary Rossman and Krass families, our program started with six adults and two staff who began the journey toward a thriving independent adult life.
Fast forward to today, fifty years later, and we are happily serving more than 250 individuals from all walks of life, touching the lives of thousands more family members, friends, and adults!
50th Anniversary Family Celebration
Chapel Haven Schleifer Center celebrated on Saturday, June 4, with a huge 50th Anniversary Family Celebration that drew in excess of 400 families, friends and dignitaries.
The event included a “marketplace” of booths in the courtyard, where families could mingle with program directors; opening remarks by CHSC President Michael Storz and dignitaries from the second-floor balcony of SAIL, a catered dinner under the “big tent” on campus, and a talent show called Night of Noise.
Opening remarks with Harriet Schleifer, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, CHSC President Michael Storz and Peggy Baker
During opening remarks, Storz was joined by Congresswoman Rose DeLauro, D-3; Alderman Richard Furlow, D-27, Len and Harriet Schleifer and Board Chair/Parent Peggy Baker. Chapel Haven’s chorus sang the National Anthem, guided by Art Director Tina Menchetti.
Storz said reaching 50 years is a significant milestone that speaks to CHSC’s excellence in the field of disabilities. “Today is a day of celebration, and an observance of all that we have achieved over a half-century. We have come an incredibly long way from our humble start at 1599 Chapel Street, with six students and two staff.”
“I could not be prouder of this state-of-the-art campus,” Storz said, “made possible by generous donors and families who believe so strongly in our mission. And I could not be prouder of the 250 adults we serve, who are living independent and self-determined lives, guided by the best staff in the business.”
Guests helping to cut the birthday cake, State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, the Schleifers, Karen Fleck (daughter of the late Jerry Rossman), Michael Storz and Board Chair Peggy Baker.
The dinner celebration drew remarks from New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, State Senator President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Karen Fleck (daughter of the late Jerry Rossman, co-founder of CHSC), Peggy Baker and Harriet Schleifer. The festivities included a giant birthday cake and a toast to 50 more years of excellence in the field of disabilities for CHSC.
Peggy, in her remarks, announced $1 million in board-directed funds to launch a staff investment fund that will increase salaries and benefits for current staff, and attract new talent.
“Chapel Haven has been a very special presence in our lives for the past 12 years, especially for our son, Matt,” Peggy said. “It was here that Matt learned how to live independently, first in the REACH program, and now in his own apartment. As parents, it was hard for us to see how Chapel Haven was going to teach Matt everything he needed to live the life he is living today. Living independently in his own condo, working at the Home Depot in Orange, volunteering at Yale-New Haven Hospital on the docks, managing his own transportation, his own fitness routine. He is having fun and has grown into the wonderful independent adult he is today.”
“How did all this happen?” Peggy asked the crowd. “Well, tonight, I am standing here to talk about something very important to me. Our staff. They are an integral part of this school and without them, none of this would be possible.”
“The goal of this new fund is very clear,” Peggy said. “It will make us more competitive for new talent….and will create much-needed positions currently not supported through tuition and fees.”
Recognizing 30-Year and 40-Year Club Members
John Malick, Ellen Rosenbaum, Kimberly LaManna
CHSC also observed a longstanding tradition of honoring adults who have achieved longevity in living independently. This tradition goes back several years and is a coveted feature at the annual family brunches held traditionally at Anthony’s Oceanview.
This year, three new students were inducted into the 30-Year Club, recognizing adults who have lived 30-plus years with independence in the CHSC community. The three are John Malick, Ellen Rosenbaum and Kimberly LaManna. Kim spoke on behalf of the group.
“When I first came to Chapel Haven, I thought I would be enrolled just for one year and then I would go back home,” Kim said. “But as I started to make friends and learned to be independent, I realized that I wanted a place that I could call my home – and that place is Chapel Haven. I have a great life here. It was here that I met and married the love of my life, Rich LaManna. We’ve been married for 18 years. And it’s here that I have a job I love, working at the front desk…I have wonderful friends and a great social life. I am very proud of all the growth that has happened at Chapel Haven – our new buildings, more students enrolling and that we have more jobs for our adults.”
Lori Krass, Rick Savard, Andrew Auerbach, Paul Siegel, Laura Mintz
And in a newly established club, CHSC also inducted six new adults into the 40-Year Club. They are: Lori Krass, Rick Savard, Andrew Auerbach, Paul Siegel and Laura Mintz. Now pictured, Steve Kanter
Lori, whose father Sydney helped to found CHSC, spoke on behalf of the group. She shared a top 10 list of her favorite things about Chapel Haven. Ranking among her top 3:
“Number 3 – the best support coordinator, Lynn Tobin. Number 2, I love Chapel Haven. And my number 1 all-time favorite memory about Chapel Haven is that my Dad started Chapel Haven!”
The festive day ended with a talent show featuring CHSC adults performing favorite songs and selections in an annual feature called Night of Noise.
Still to come for CHSC 50th celebrations
The celebrations are not over yet! Other events in the planning stages include:
CHSC 50th Anniversary Gala, September 30, 2022 at the New Haven Lawn Club.
CHSC 50th Birthday Palooza
The 50th Anniversary fun continues with our 50th Anniversary Birthday Palooza on Saturday, July 16 from 4-8 p.m. in the CHSC Courtyard.
This event is free and is for CHSC students and community members. (Sorry, families, but you’re invited to our 50th Gala on September 30, stay tuned!)
Join us for:
• Games • Dunk tank • Pie a staff • Mike Storz magic shows • Food trucks • Dancing with DJ Joe • And more!
This event is free but we do need you to RSVP. Use this link to register:
CHSC Family Connections Events – CHSC is launching a new series of Family Connections Events. The goal is to bring families together within geographical areas to build connections and friendship amongst our CHSC families. These are opportunities to meet CHSC President Michael Storz, who will provide an update on the “State of CHSC”, as well as many other members of CHSC program staff. These events are being generously hosted by local families in their homes or other venues of their choosing. Currently, Family Connections Events are being planned in the following areas:
Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York
Northern & Eastern Connecticut
New York City
Interested in attending or hosting a Family Connections event in your area, please contact Diane Kwong-Shah