Chapel Haven Launches Transformational Capital Campaign
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Chapel Haven Launches Transformational Capital Campaign

On Sunday, April 17, at Chapel Haven’s Annual Family Brunch, President Michael Storz announced the launch of a $41 million capital campaign that positions Chapel Haven once again as a pioneer in serving adults with disabilities.

The campaign, entitled “Continuing the Commitment: The Campaign for Chapel Haven,” has inspired early supporters to invest in a multi-year master plan that will transform Chapel Haven’s Westville campus and add a senior living facility, allowing senior members of the community to continue living among friends and with independence. Highlighting the many announcements that were made during the event was news that nearly $31.5 million has already been donated toward the ambitious and essential fundraising goal.

To see a photo album from the Family Brunch, click here: Photo Album, Chapel Haven Brunch, 2016

Chapel Haven’s capital campaign plans have already garnered extensive press coverage. To read a front-page story in the New Haven Register, click here.

Click here to read a story in the Hartford Courant.

To see a story in Business New Haven, click here: Business New Haven story on capital campaign

“I am so proud of Chapel Haven’s founding in 1972. We were the first agency of our kind to champion the idea that adults with disabilities can gain independence and live happy and productive lives,” Storz said. “Each year, Chapel Haven serves 250 adults, so our track record is incredible. With this campaign, we are poised to become a pioneer once again with the planned addition of a senior living program and a complete transformation of our campus.”

“We look forward to working with the City and the neighborhood on a responsible master plan renovation that will further strengthen our presence in the Westville community,” Storz said. Chapel Haven has been a stable force in Westville since its founding in 1972 in a house on Chapel Street.

Chapel Haven has hired Newman and Sons architects, an award-winning architectural firm based in New Haven, Conn. with seasoned experience in campus transformations; and Eventus Solutions to oversee the campus renovations and additions.

Storz noted that many families have already given generously and volunteered as leadership for the campaign.  Chapel Haven’s Board of Directors, led by John Bilezikian, board President and the parent of a Chapel Haven community member, is actively involved with the capital campaign, as is Chapel Haven’s Board, Campaign Executive Committee, and families.

John and Sophie Bilezikian sent their daughter, Diana, to Chapel Haven more than 20 years ago from their home community of Scarsdale, N.Y. Diana now lives in her own condominium unit and enjoys a fulfilling, happy and independent life.

“I have had the privilege of helping to launch this capital plan both as board chair and as a committed Chapel Haven parent,” John Bilezikian said. “The excitement among our parent community is tangible. Chapel Haven’s mission is to help our adults stay fulfilled and independent during their productive years. Knowing that Chapel Haven will step in to provide high quality senior care in their later years is a vital component of our overall vision.”

“With the launching of our capital campaign, we aim to become what our founders envisioned – a supportive and lifelong community with opportunities for growth and fulfillment that will truly set the standard for the field. I know I speak for all parents when I say that this new vision for Chapel Haven, to be realized through the capital campaign, is the most exciting undertaking in its 44-year history.“

Diana Davis Spencer, whose daughter, Kim, graduated the REACH program and lives independently in the Chapel Haven community, announced that her family foundation has committed significant dollars to the creation of the senior living facility. She recalled how hard it was for their family to find the right lifelong program for Kim and how pleased she is now to help Chapel Haven launch its next step.

“Think back to those tenuous, uncertain days before any of us discovered Chapel Haven. For our family in the early 90’s there was no Google to enlighten us where to go to find this gem,” Diana said. “How beyond fortunate that we discovered Chapel Haven and our visionary leader, Mike Storz! Mike challenged us several years ago to consider our children’s future and the idea of building an assistant living complex. Well, time flies and this year our family Foundation decided to vote an overwhelming Yes to the idea.”

Fran Dolan, parent of ASAT graduate and community member John Dolan, attested to the need for a complete campus renovation, noting that Chapel Haven has done an extraordinary job “against the backdrop of some rather older, somber buildings. The truth is …Chapel Haven has focused all of its time, energy and resources on creating outstanding, results-oriented programming, executed by highly-trained staff members.  As word of this visionary programming spread, Chapel Haven grew quickly – and not wanting to turn away those in need of our programming – purchased nearby buildings in order to secure the much needed space. However, these buildings were never constructed with the needs of our specific population in mind… Now it is time for our facilities to match the same level of our programming. Our adults… deserve it. Your sons and daughters deserve it.  Our staff deserves it.”

Parent and board member Harriet Schleifer, also an early supporter of the capital campaign said, “This campaign will elevate Chapel Haven to the next chapter.  Transforming the campus is crucial to in order for Chapel Haven to be a vibrant and sustainable community.  A renewed campus will help to attract the next generation of Chapel Haven members.  And we will miss out on welcoming new friends if we don’t make the facilities as attractive as our program is fabulous.”

The campaign has four major pillars: Creating an assisted living program that carries Chapel Haven’s mission forward into the senior years; transforming campus facilities including residential houses, classrooms and community spaces. The campaign will also support the expansion of employment opportunities for members of the Chapel Haven community and grow the Chapel Haven endowment.

The focus of the capital campaign is as follows:

Creating Lifelong Assisted Living:

Chapel Haven’s mission is to provide life-long services. “As our clients age, we must be prepared to help them and support them with the same level of care and encouragement that has nurtured their independence,” Storz noted. With the help of the master plan team, Chapel Haven has already done extensive research on the need for a senior living component and some best practices in creating a facility. Along with adding senior living, master planning has shown that Chapel Haven’s facilities have served the agency well but are outdated and are hampering “our ability to deliver services,” Storz said.

Despite steady growth over the years, Chapel Haven has reached a critical point in its ability to meet demand for its innovative and result-oriented programs. “Our commitment to provide high-quality programs led by exceptional staff has always taken precedence over our campus and facility needs,” Storz said. “Now the limitations of our facilities are affecting our ability to deliver services.”

“Reimagining the campus with a redesign that focuses on bringing our community together and encouraging socialization is one of the most exciting aspects of our master plan,” Storz said.

Transforming the Campus

While Chapel Haven’s current campus has supported the growth of best-in-class programs, we will be able to establish a renewed and vibrant learning environment specifically designed to address the individual needs of our adult community.

Our existing campus, including all the facilities for core programming, need to be expanded, renovated, and in some instances newly built in ways that best serve the needs of our adults.

Increasing Employment Opportunities

Chapel Haven knows that a key component of independent living is meaningful employment. National statistics show that the employment rate for persons with disabilities is only 20 percent, compared with a 70 percent average for the general population. Chapel Haven has received a generous $5 million gift from a family to create a replicable, sustainable employment model for its clients.

Growing the Endowment

For scholarship and tuition assistance, mission enhancement and program development, and staffing to grow, Chapel Haven’s endowment must continue to increase. A secure financial base will allow us to remain strong and stable in the future, ensuring that Chapel Haven will always be able to provide its life-changing services to the men and women that we serve.

About Chapel Haven:

Founded in 1972 in a house on Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, Chapel Haven is a nationally accredited transitional living program and approved private special education school with a mission of teaching adults with cognitive disabilities and social disabilities to live independent and productive lives. Chapel Haven has grown to serve more than 250 adults (18 years of age and older) in the residence and the community with three distinct programs; REACH, Asperger’s Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT), and Chapel Haven West (Tucson, AZ). Read more at www.chapelhaven.org.

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This has been a special needs program update from Chapel Haven. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.