Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development broke ground Friday on a $10 million expansion of its Lancaster County facility in order to serve more children with special needs.
The 14,700-square-foot expansion to the facility at 625 Community Way, East Hempfield Township, will enable the center to provide a greater range of services to more children, ages birth to 21, with developmental and cognitive disabilities, said James BeBord, president, Schreiber.
During a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday, Schreiber announced that almost $6.5 million in private donations has been raised for the renovations. The ceremony marked the start of a public campaign to raise the rest of the funding.
The capital campaign, “Where Heroes are Made,” shines the light on the community, which is a hero to the facility, the therapists, who are heroes to the children, and the children who are the real heroes, DeBord said.
To honor the children and their spirit, the ceremonial groundbreaking was captured by the children launching confetti in the air instead of shoveling dirt. The joy on the children’s faces drew applause from the crowd of more than 150 patrons.
The funding will not only allow Schreiber to expand operations but will create an endowment fund to cover the losses Schreiber experiences every year, he said.
“Without Schreiber, there would be no place for these kids to go to live their dreams,” DeBord said, adding Schreiber is the only outpatient pediatric therapy service in Central Pennsylvania.
Schreiber operates at a loss every year because reimbursement for services pays 40 cents to 70 cents on the dollar, depending on the source, he said. “Most health care systems don’t cover outpatient treatment because of this.”
DeBord, who joined Schreiber 10 years ago when it was experiencing $2 million annual losses, said he set out to raise more funding through relationships with foundations and donors. The result has been a 500% increase in fundraising.
More importantly, he said, “We had a two-year waiting list for evaluations and that is just too late. Now the waiting list is two to three weeks.”
The expansion, which will increase the number of therapists and staff, expand treatment services and resources for behavioral, occupational, physical and speech-language therapies, will allow Schreiber to treat up to 500 more children each year. Currently, the center sees 4,000 children a year, he said.
Katie Martin, who was a poster child for Schreiber in 1986 and now works as a grant writer for the center, said, “This is the beginning of a new era.”
Martin, who lives with cerebral palsy, said she started going to Schreiber at 6 months of age and remained in therapy until she aged out at 21. She then worked as an intern for the center, helping with the first capital campaign.
“To see this grow is a good thing,” she said during the ceremony. “We will be able to help more children. The need is always there, and we need to accommodate that. We are a place of hope.”
During the festivities, the Lancaster County Commissioners presented a check for $620,000 from American Rescue Plan funds the county received.
Commissioner Joshua Parsons, in presenting the check, said, “We’re trying to protect the things we value that make the community what it is. This touches the lives of these children so thank you all for what you do.”
Megan Campbell Roland, a physical therapist with Schreiber for 25 years, said she is excited that the new gym space and new equipment will allow children to move more easily. A planned track on the ceiling will allow more children to learn to walk and fall.
That is important, she said, because “if a child can’t fall, they won’t walk.” She explained that if a child doesn’t know how to fall and get back up, fear holds them back.
“This is amazing,” she said of the outpouring of community support. “We can see how many people we touch in the community. We forget that day to day, but when we see this, we see the impact of changing people’s lives.”
The work is hard, “but these kids do the work. If this wasn’t worthwhile, I wouldn’t have been here for 25 years,” she said.