Replacing old ceiling tiles was the way a small band of smiling volunteers celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Amherst Township.
They spent the afternoon at the Children’s Developmental Center on Erie Court, cutting tiles and sliding them into place in the non-profit’s vaulted ceiling.
Director Anne Spelic said the building was raised in 1969. Many of the tiles dated back to then. “They’re aging, they’re discolored, and they need replaced,” she said.
Some volunteers, came from nearby, like Dennis Kirwan and Liz Priess, both of Vermilion.
Others drove from far away to lend a hand.
Ariel Rhea drove from Brooklyn, Ohio. For the past eight Januarys she’s made a point of volunteering on Martin Luther King Day.
This year, she had trouble finding a chance to help at her local food pantry. Using the United Way of Greater Lorain County website, she saw Amherst far outside her usual stomping grounds and decided to make the trip.
Her dedication is a tribute to King’s example. “I think it’s very important to fulfill his dream by helping others,” she said.
The Children’s Developmental Center serves kids with special needs. offering speech and language therapy, physical therapy, psychological services, audiology, occupational therapy, summer camps, and teaming up with Head Start.
In the past three years, the number of clients has boomed to 1,200 children annually, in large part due to changes in insurance coverage and the Affordable Care Act, Spelic said.
There’s also been a huge increase in autism spectrum diagnoses, especially with children in the middle of the spectrum.
Spelic said her agency is doing very well and replacing ceiling tiles is just a start for the updates her building will need in coming years.
“We’re a small non-profit. Like government and everyone else, funding is getting tighter and tighter,” she said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Dennis Kirwan and Ariel Rhea cut ceiling tiles to replace those that have been in use 47 years at the Children’s Developmental Center on Erie Court.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.