St. Nicholas Center for Children holds grand opening for new fac - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

St. Nicholas Center for Children holds grand opening for new facility

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It may have started out small, but the St. Nicholas Center for Children proved with hard work and lots of support anything is possible.

Stakeholders and community members cut the ribbon Sunday to the center's new home on Ryan Street.

The grand opening was made possible by many generous donations, including a big donation from William J. Dore. Organizers said it would not have been possible without Dore's support and named the center the "Dore Center for Autism."

The capital campaign is still underway. To date they have raised more than $700,000 to help improve the treatment for children with autism.

"We offer A.V.A. therapy - that's the cornerstone therapy to help children with autism and other delays. We also offer occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy so whenever you have a comprehensive therapeutic program like this and you have professionals we have on sight - these kids are out of sight. They're making huge jumps and really thriving," said Michelle Mudd, St. Nicholas Center for Children Executive Board Member/Treasurer.

When they started in 2008, the center only had three staff members and served four children. Six years later, they have a growing staff of 57 and more than 104 clients. It's a dream come true for Executive Director Christy Papania-Jones, who founded the center because her son has autism.

"In the beginning we started this non-profit organization because we wanted to improve the quality of treatment for autism. It feels really great were helping over 100 families right now and counting the children who have come and gone its well over that. Its quite humbling and exciting at the same time," said Papania-Jones.

They also announced that the St. Nicholas Center is now a United Way agency.

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