Adult Program Celebrates 5th Anniversary

March 2020 marks the fifth year of the Adult Program at Saint Catherine Center. 

Shortly after coming on board as Executive Director in 2008, Helen Burland recognized the need for quality programming for young adults after they completed a school program. With Board support, she initiated a feasibility study for a program at Saint Catherine and hired Laura Grozier (now Director of Operations) to assist her. They visited numerous adult day facilities in the area and determined that a program for young adults would be viable and offer a seamless transition for individuals graduating from the Academy. “We made the commitment that there would be a place in the Adult Program for any Saint Catherine Academy student who wanted to continue with us,” Helen said.

To facilitate this evolution, Saint Catherine Center for Special Needs was established in the fall of 2014 as an umbrella entity to encompass the Academy, the Adult Program, and an Office of Parish & Community Support. In March 2015 the Adult Program opened with two former Academy students and two individuals from the Fairfield area. Parents immediately appreciated the small size, access to transportation, the quality of the staff, and the continued focus on life skills. Bowling, swimming, and community outings have been part of the schedule from the beginning. Over time, art, music, and yoga classes were added, as well as vocational experiences.

Patrick Gorman and Sonia Vielot were the first Adult Program staff members.

“The goal at both the Academy and the Adult Program has always been independence,” said Helen. “Our role is to support each individual in doing as much as they can. There is a palpable energy at the Center that comes from the feeling of purpose that our young people have.”

Today, the Adult Program has reached capacity with 26 participants from 14 towns. A Board committee is actively looking at ways to expand the facility to serve more adults and enhance vocational opportunities. Stay tuned for the next evolution at Saint Catherine Center!

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