Autism Learning Center opens in Benton Harbor

Community invited to ribbon cutting September 29

 

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (Sept. 12, 2016) – LOGAN Autism Learning Center – Southwest Michigan opened its doors to children and parents at its new location in Benton Harbor last week, and the transition couldn’t have gone smoother.

The spacious new campus, once the site of the former Stump School, offers 18,000 square feet of interior space and 6.5 acres of property, plenty of room to stretch and grow. Six classrooms, a sensory room, gymnasium/cafeteria and a fully equipped playground provide an ideal backdrop for LOGAN staff to work one-on-one with children and parents.

The community is invited to join LOGAN and the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the opening of the new building with a ribbon cutting and open house, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, September 29 at 1651 E. Nickerson Ave., Benton Harbor. Stop by for refreshments, tours and an opportunity to learn more about LOGAN’s full range of autism services, including an intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program, behavior consulting, recreation and social skills activities and resources for families.

“There’s such a need, and such a strong part of LOGAN’s mission is to fill unmet needs,” said Dan Ryan, Director of LOGAN Autism Services. “It’s just unreal to think the community has come together and created this opportunity for us.”

LOGAN began providing home-based services for a small number of Berrien County families in 2007. Three years ago, the agency opened the first center-based Applied Behavior Analysis program in the county in partnership with the First Congregational Church in St. Joseph, Michigan, which provided classroom space in its education wing. Starting with an enrollment of only four children, LOGAN now serves more than 70 families in Southwest Michigan, with more waiting for space to open up.

“We hate waiting lists,” said Joshua John Diehl, Ph.D., chief strategy officer for Autism Services at LOGAN.

So when the abandoned Stump School went on the market a little more than two years ago, he and other LOGAN officials, saw the potential and began the lengthy process to purchase the property and renovate it for use as a nonprofit autism learning center.

No more waiting for autism services

“It’s taken a lot of hard work, planning and community partnerships to get this far,” said Clint Bolser, LOGAN CEO. “We couldn’t be more pleased to be joining the Benton Harbor community as both a provider of services and an employer. We’re part of the landscape now – we’re here to stay.”

Bolser said one group stood out in its effort to help the LOGAN Autism Learning Center become established in Southwest Michigan, the congregation of First Congregational Church in St. Joseph. “We’ve been living in their basement for a couple of years, now,” he said. “We can’t say thank you enough for the time the church gave us. Because they opened their doors to LOGAN, dozens of families did not have to wait for vital autism therapies and supports. And now, no one has to wait.”

Families got to preview the new campus before it opened for business and gave it rave reviews.

Jacob Sanders, 5, started clapping when his mother, Stephanie told him this was his new center.

Melanie Russell, 4, and her brother Beckett Murray, 5, wasted no time trying out the ball pits and bouncers in the sensory room and the play kitchens in a classroom.

“Both of them are, like, super excited,” said their mom, Cathy Murray.

And they were not the only ones.

LOGAN staff shared the children’s enthusiasm.

“Everybody is ecstatic,” said Kristin Wier, clinical site director, “The expanded space and materials have allowed great interaction between staff and clients.”

On the first official day at the new center, 27 children and teens, ranging in age from 2- to 17-years-old, came for their individualized programs, some staying only an hour or two, others completing a full day.

“I’m beyond excited,” said Diehl. “The thing I’m most excited about this facility is our whole goal is to transition children to school or sometimes, back to school, and this looks, sounds and feels like a school. There are very few places like it in the country. I’m hoping this location is just the start.”

The Benton Harbor site is one of five LOGAN Autism Learning Centers. Others have been established in Kalamazoo, Michigan; South Bend, Granger and Logansport, Indiana. The Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at LOGAN Center on Jefferson Boulevard in South Bend serves as the hub for LOGAN Autism Services.

About LOGAN

Since 1950, LOGAN has reached out to friends and families with help and hope through advocacy, resources and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization invites people in our community to join in this mission by opening their doors and their hearts to Discover the Potential in all of us. For more information, visit www.LoganCenter.org.

MEDIA CONTACT
Nancy Miller
Director of Marketing and Communications
LOGAN
574-289-4831
nmiller@logancenter.org