Stepping Stones and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati (UCP) announced today (Nov. 4, 2013) that they are combining services and facilities to become a single agency with three program sites: Stepping Stones’ sites in Indian Hill and Batavia and United Cerebral Palsy’s site in Norwood. Chris Adams, executive director of Stepping Stones, will be executive director of the new, larger agency. UCP’s trustees will join the Stepping Stones board. UCP board president Tom Williams will be on the executive committee.
The combined agency will be called Stepping Stones and will continue to serve children, teens and adults with an array of developmental disabilities including autism, bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, seizure disorders, and multiple disabilities.
“This combination represents a promising new chapter in the continued evolution of United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati,” said UCP board president Tom Williams. “We are confident that, by working together, we can expand programs and enhance operating efficiency to better serve the community.”
Stepping Stones Board President John McIlwraith said the merger is a natural step. “The two agencies have virtually the same mission, similar programs and serve the same needs. Some clients attend programs at both agencies,” said McIlwraith.
“The merger allows us to better leverage the agencies’ resources to offer exceptional programs to meet the growing needs of individuals with disabilities in Greater Cincinnati.”
The combined agency will have a budget of more than $4 million. Both are United Way partner agencies. The merged agency will continue to be part of the worldwide United Cerebral Palsy affiliate network.
The merger renews historic ties between the two agencies. Two of Stepping Stones’ three founders were connected with United Cerebral Palsy – Peggy Geier was a UCP volunteer and mother of a child with cerebral palsy and Mary T. Schloss was a UCP professional. In the 1960s they helped lead activity programs in local parks, serving children with cerebral palsy. Geier and her longtime friend, Minor LeBlond, decided to create a permanent summer camp program that could serve children with all kinds of disabilities. That dream became Stepping Stones in 1963, with Mary Schloss working with Geier and LeBlond to design the program and build early support.
Stepping Stones became Greater Cincinnati’s first summer camp serving children with a wide range of disabilities. Today, Stepping Stones serves close to 1,000 children, teens and adults in year-round and seasonal programs including day and overnight camps and respites, alternative education for students with severe autism, Saturday Clubs for children and young adults and year-round adult services at its Given Road campus in Indian Hill and Camp Allyn in Batavia, which Stepping Stones operates in partnership with The Rotary Club of Cincinnati. Stepping Stones celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati was founded in 1949 to serve children with cerebral palsy. In 2008, the agency’s Aaron W. Perlman Center, offering services for children, became a department of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. UCP refocused its programs to serve teens and adults with all kinds of disabilities. Current programs include life enrichment, art and technology.
UCP of Greater Cincinnati moved to a newly renovated building in Norwood this spring. The building includes a computer lab and gym as well as state-of-the-art program space.
As part of the transition, the agencies will maintain independent web sites and phone numbers for several months. Current UCP clients can continue to contact UCP. New inquiries should go to Stepping Stones Client Services, 513-831-4660 or the web site www.steppingstonesohio.org
UCP’s SnowBall Gala, scheduled for Nov. 22 at The Phoenix in downtown Cincinnati, will be held as planned. For tickets, contact UCP at (513) 221-4606 www.ucp-cincinnati.org.