VIRGINIA

ServiceSource opens new disability center in Fairfax County

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Travel time is being cut down for adults with special needs who are seeking care in western Fairfax County.

Until now, many of them spent 30 minutes or more commuting across town.

All that's changing, thanks to a state-of-the-art facility in Chantilly.

The new disability center run by the non-profit ServiceSource is a home-away-from-home for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

They spend the day enjoying activities that make them feel a part of a beloved community.

Activities like dance, music, art and animal therapy are tailored to the needs of people like 35 year-old Anna Pawlukiewicz, who suffers from a rare degenerative disease. Over the years she's lost skills.

She and her new friends traveled for therapy before the new facility.

"That used to take an hour-and-a-half every day back and forth," says Michael Pawlukiewicz, Anna's father. "An hour-and-a-half there and an hour-and-a-half back. She spent a lot of time doing nothing on a bus."

Those days are over.

This new center currently serves about 40 people, but is built for a hundred or so.

The day habilitation program offers traditional occupational and speech therapy and builds creativity in the sensory perception room.

Michael Scogno, 45, is blind and has learning disabilities.

"Michael loves it and he's so excited and he talks about it and even his blood sugar has dropped down low, so he's happy. He's very happy here," says Martha Ferguson, Michael's mother.

Those who made this place possible, like Mark Hall say it offers a lot, long-term.

"We view this really as a community door-opener," says Hall, ServiceSources' executive vice president for corporate development.

It's helping people like his son James, who has Down Syndrome, get into the work force.

"Folks with disabilities are just everyone else," Hall says. "Maybe they have some more challenges in their lives, but many have the same dreams and aspirations. They want employment. They want a place to go every day. They want to be a part of the community. They want to have friends."

Those who benefit from ServiceSource pay nothing. Fairfax County foots the bill with help of federal Medicaid dollars.

But every year, it's a waiting game to find out if those dollars will roll through.

Just yesterday ServiceSource found out they will have enough money to run this year.

 

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