It all began in the 1950s, when parents of children with “emotional disabilities” were desperate for any kind of assistance. The Center came into existence from a gathering of six children and their families in a Levittown basement in 1958. Today, after celebrating more than 60 years of service, The Center has grown to two main campuses in Woodbury and Hicksville, as well as the 19 residential locations throughout Long Island.
The phenomenal expansion was due in large part to the small but dynamic group of parents who set the process in motion, the hard working mothers and fathers who succeeded them as well as those who continue to follow their inspiring example. In 1959, the parents rented an old farmhouse in Levittown and lovingly cleaned, repaired and painted it. They raised money by ringing doorbells and alerting the community to their needs.
THE WOODBURY CAMPUS
In the early 60s, Jack Brover and Dr. Irving J. Rockoff began their unsurpassed years of service to the Center. Along with Pearl Williams and Frank Murphy, they were the driving force behind the main fundraiser – the annual dinner dances – for many years. With the help of others, Mr. Brover and Dr. Rockoff began the search for a piece of land to become a permanent home for the fast-growing center. Its approval as an accredited agency by the State Department of Mental Hygiene and the Nassau County Mental Health Board made it eligible for government financial assistance and additional funds were raised by parents and friends made possible the purchase of a property at 72 South Woods Rd in Woodbury. A new dream was born in 1965, when the Center submitted a proposal to the federal government for construction of a combined day and residential facility located in Woodbury.
THE HICKSVILLE CAMPUS
As the agency grew out of its childhood years, so did the boys and girls it was established to serve. They were becoming adults and needed more than programs designed for children. The Adult Day Program began in Woodbury in 1974 and 11 years later moved to a much larger campus at 101 New South Road in Hicksville, New York. The current Adult Day program provides three basic service modalities: Day Habilitation, Supported Employment and Program Without Walls
The Center opened the State’s first group home for autistic adults in 1981 and now operates and maintains a total of 19 adult residences.
For over 60 years, the Center has been on the cutting edge in trying new therapies to help people with developmental disabilities. While there is still no cure for autism, the lives of many program participants continue to improve in meaningful ways. When the Center started in 1958, our children were alone. There was no legislation affording them public education, no schools devoted to their needs, no organization to care for them. All of that has changed for the better as the people that we serve have taken their rightful place in the community.