Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Helping those with special needs find their ‘niche’

First-time visitors to the McGuire Memorial Employment Option Center often come away with two lasting impressions—the happy, productive workplace atmosphere, and the infectious smiles of identical twin sisters.

Chrissie and Jackie have worked as co-receptionists at the licensed Adult Training Facility in Moon Township for the past four years, and have been a part of the program since it opened in 2002. The center offers day programs and school-to-work transitioning for adults with mild to moderate disabilities and/or autism.

“Chrissie and Jackie stick together, and they do a great job,” said Damon Krynicki, director of the Employment Option Center. “I like to say that everyone has a niche—you just need to find it.”

Established in 1963, McGuire Memorial offers comprehensive services to more than 300 children and adults with multiple, complex disabilities. They provide a school, intermediate care facility, a life enrichment program for adults, and community homes.

Sacrificial gifts from donors to Our Campaign for The Church Alive! provided support to expand McGuire Memorial’s Community Solutions NOW program, helping those with special needs participate in work opportunities, volunteering and recreational outings.

The Employment Option Center offers vocational assessments and training, transitional work services, life skills, school-to-work programs and paid jobs. At the facility, clients label and stuff envelopes, shred documents and work in housekeeping.

Fifteen of the 84 adults work in local doctor’s offices, physical therapy centers, retailers and fast food restaurants. The Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce provides job leads and sends out an annual membership mailing through the center.

“They are wonderful to work with and really help us out,” said chamber executive director Michelle Kreutzer. “They’re a great asset to the community.”

The School at McGuire Memorial, also supported by the campaign, is licensed as an Approved Private School, providing individualized special education services for students ages 3 to 21 who have multiple intellectual and physical disabilities, or who are on the autism spectrum. The school offers a comprehensive education and a range of therapeutic services.

“Our goal is to always help these amazing children to be as independent as they can be,” said director Kim Scanlon Lieb. “We bring them into the community, teaching them how to use money, follow directions by going into the supermarket or mall, and to feel the grass under their feet in a park.”

Lieb, who volunteered at McGuire Memorial as a child and worked in the residential program during college, said they serve students with challenging needs. There are 11 different programs for those who can learn to read, five math programs, and three for handwriting. Speech, physical and occupational therapists work with students, along with behavior analysts.

A non-profit organization that serves people of all faiths and backgrounds, McGuire Memorial believes in the sacredness of life and the right of every individual to compassionate, holistic care.

“As a Felician-sponsored ministry, McGuire Memorial exemplifies the core values of the Felician Sisters and our Foundress, Blessed Mary Angela, whose charism is lived out each day through the selfless service of our employees,” said Sister Mary Thaddeus Markelewicz, CSSF, president and CEO.

Krynicki offered a thank you to donors.

“Their gifts are going to a good use,” Krynicki said. “They better peoples’ lives and help our community partners.

“Our clients are gifts to all of us.”