There are some places in Cleveland area that may be relatively unknown to people, that is, until they find themselves in need of their services. The Rose-Mary Center may be one of those places. You may have heard their name mentioned on Cleveland radio station Mix 106.5 when they have on-line ticket auctions for special concerts, but you may not have ever bothered to find out exactly what it is that The Rose-Mary Center does. Well, here’s your chance to learn more, and maybe, if you’re so inclined, to support their efforts.
The Rose-Mary Center has been serving the Cleveland area for many years. It is a non-profit organization that was established in 1922, serving children with physical handicaps such as polio and cerebral palsy. In 1967, it updated its focus, due to medical advances and the changing needs of the community, and began to serve children with mental and developmental disabilities. In 1989, they also included adults with similar disabilities.
The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History provides some detail of the Center’s early history:
The Rose-Mary Center, which began in 1922 as a home for crippled children, has provided residential evaluation and treatment for multi-handicapped children ages 3-12. Before 1922 Catholic crippled children were cared for at the Episcopal Holy Cross House. When a change in policy limited services to Episcopalians, Caesar Grasselli [president and chairman of the board of Grasselli Chemical] offered his Euclid 7-acre summer residence (at 19350 Euclid Ave.) to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, in memory of his wife, Johanna, an invalid for many years. The home, with a capacity of 24, was named for its first patron, a crippled orphan found in Youngstown shortly after birth. The Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary staffed the home; the Catholic Daughters of America performed maintenance and raised funds; and Grasselli, who visited each week, provided equipment and furnishings. Rose-Mary Home pioneered modern treatment to correct physical handicaps of children with healthy minds. Through physical therapy, disabled children re-educated weak muscles and achieved as close to normal function as possible. The homelike setting included furnishings and utensils specially designed for the young residents. In 1943 the adjacent William Delaney house and property were acquired and used for staff sleeping quarters. A new building on the same site was completed in 1949 with Catholic Charities Corp. funds. The facility concentrated all activities under one roof and permitted care of up to 50 children.
The mission statement for The Rose-Mary Center (also known as Johanna Grasselli Rehabilitation and Education Center) says that the “Rose-Mary Center assists and empowers individuals with mental retardation and developmental disabilities to achieve a life of increasing abilities and personal fulfillment thereby becoming more independent and integrated members of the community. The Center supports and joins with families in this pursuit.” Rose-Mary works hard in the care of these children and adults to help them focus on their activities of daily living, mobility, and helping in behavior management, social skills, and communication. This is a 24/7 responsibility, as the children and adults who are living at the center or in one of their group homes need varied, specialized care during the day AND night. Besides the main Center For Children, there are also several group homes for adults in the Cleveland area.
But to me, the Rose-Mary Center is much more than just the service it provides. Several years ago, a member of my family was in need of their help, and the Rose-Mary Center stepped up to the challenge. It is always difficult for any family to admit that they are unable to care for a child with special needs, especially one with severe disabilities and behavioral issues. The people at The Rose-Mary Center provided the critical support needed to help my family member overcome many issues and helped him to thrive, despite the fact that he will never be anywhere near “normal”. And while his care will likely require specialized attention for his lifetime, The Rose-Mary Center has worked hard to help him perform some tasks that many people simply take for granted, such as simply being able to grasp a spoon to help feed himself. In the several years I have known the employees of the Center, I can tell you that they provide something that is priceless, and that is the love for the people that reside there. It is as if each resident has his or her own group of guardian angels tending to their needs and helping them to learn new skills.
As you can imagine, the level of care that is required for residents of Rose-Mary is quite expensive, and financial support from the government does not cover all their needs. This is why community support and involvement are so important in helping sustain their work. And the one thing I do know about Cleveland area residents is that they are always willing to help those in need. If you, your company, or your school, are looking for a cause to support, please consider The Rose-Mary Center – and I’ll consider you to be an honorary angel if you do!
Information about donations and gifts to The Rose Mary Center can be found here, and their home page is here.
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