Center will be based at Al Sigl Schwartz Family Campus and will provide a wide range of services
By Christine Green
The founders of the Golisano Autism Center will be breaking ground at the Al Sigl Schwartz Family Campus on South Avenue near Science Parkway this spring in preparation for their grand opening in 2019.
The Golisano Autism Center is a collaboration of CP Rochester, AutismUp and Al Sigl Community of Agencies. The three agencies will bring together multiple autism providers in one central location.
“Why not bring the autism services agencies together in one hub and create this full array of accessible services for individuals and their families in the Rochester area?” said Mary Boatfield CEO of CP Rochester and board chairwoman of the Golisano Autism Center. Boatfield also works with Happiness House and Rochester Rehabilitation and noticed that there was a community need for a centralized autism center. She traveled the country researching and visiting other autism centers in order to see what they offered in their communities.
CP Rochester, AutismUp and Al Sigl Community of Agencies used her research to create a business plan and present to philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano. Golisano pledged a $2.5 million matching challenge grant to fund the new center, and the Golisano Foundation donated $500,000 for total donation of $3 million.
The center is finalizing the architectural plans for the 30,000 square foot building before breaking ground this spring. They hope to be open by the fall of 2019 to coincide with the beginning of the school year.
Boatfield said that they expect to serve upwards of 10,000 individuals with autism in the Rochester area within the first three to five years of being open.
Everyone who comes to the Golisano Autism Center will meet with an autism services navigator who will help them understand the many services available at the center as well as help them coordinate services at off site locations such as community centers and schools.
The center will provide services to both adults and children with autism as well as their families. Adult programs will include social and recreation programs, jobs exploration and training, and assistance finding housing, among many others. There will also be a fitness center for teens and adults as well as a full kitchen in order to provide cooking activities and training.
Children’s programs will include evaluation services, a preschool, after school programming, a sensory gym and therapy room. Teens graduating from high school will get transitioning assistance as they decide if they want to attend college, find a job or volunteer in the community
Lynn Rodrigues is a substitute school nurse and the president of the Brockport Central School District PTSA. Her 8-year-old son, Rocco, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 2. Rodrigues is excited for the opening of the Golisano Autism Center and believes it will make a big impact on her son and her family.
“Networking with other parents, educators and therapists is the key to success. Up until now, we have had to travel to multiple facilities to receive social, recreational and therapeutic services. Having these opportunities available to all of us, under one roof, is so exciting! I believe it will allow us to expand our parental network and allow our children more time learning and playing instead of driving them all around Rochester to provide a well-rounded experience.”
Boatfield and the board of the Golisano Autism Center hope that active collaboration between providers will make assisting those with autism and their families much easier for all involved. The center will alleviate the stress of undue travel and expense for families who right now must drive to various locations around the area. Currently, more than 10 providers are working collaboratively to develop the programs and services that the center will provide.
To learn more about the Golisano Autism Center visit GolisanoAutismCenter.org.