Lakemary Celebrates 50 Years of Transforming Lives

Lakemary 50 Years

For half a century now, Lakemary Center has had the honor of serving individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities; providing opportunities and support for these special people to live their lives to the fullest. What started as a single school in Paola, Kansas has blossomed into an organization that serves individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities from all over the country.

Lakemary’s history began in 1964 when the Paola City Manager and a local physician had an idea for a mental health facility in Paola. In order to bring the idea to fruition, they approached the Ursuline Sisters of Paola for help. The project transitioned into a school specifically for children with mental disabilities and Mother M. Charles McGrath of the Ursuline Academy led the charge to get funding. By 1967, the project was ready, and construction was underway.

Initial construction was completed in 1969 and the facility was turned over to the Ursuline Sisters of Paola. On March 21, 1970, Lakemary Center officially opened, and dedication ceremonies were attended by Kansas Senator Bob Dole and Governor Robert Docking.

Since its beginning, Lakemary has provided services for children with intellectual/developmental disabilities and continues to do so today. These services have evolved over the years in order to better serve the children in our care. Today, young people between the ages of 6-21 benefit from two cornerstone services: our Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) and Lakemary School. The PRTF program provides 24/7 therapy for children with dual diagnoses of an intellectual/developmental disability and psychiatric disorder. Lakemary School is a year-round K-12 accredited school where all teachers are certified in Special Education and each student benefits from services and supports designed to meet their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

As children aged and eventually graduated from Lakemary School, it seemed natural and vital to add services for adults. The adult program was started in 1982 with the building of two group homes. Today, adult services have expanded into two counties and include Day Services and Residential Living Services. Lakemary partners with local businesses to connect adults with employment opportunities ranging from e-recycling/shredding to working in area restaurants with the support of a job coach. Adults also support the local community by volunteering with Harvesters and Meals on Wheels. Lakemary provides residential services to more than 130 adults living in Miami and Johnson County with care options ranging from 24/7 staff support to independent living with care as needed. Emphasis is placed on community access, inclusion and integration for all.

Lakemary offers an array of additional services including targeted case management, specialized foster care, outpatient therapy and a career program for young adults ages 18-29 with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The Paola campus has also expanded within the last decade with the opening of the Discovery Center, the Bob Dole Family Center and Lakemary Ranch.

“The positive impact of our work can be seen in the lives of so many children and adults here,” says Gianna Gariglietti, President/CEO of Lakemary. “While our staff and amazing group of donors and supporters generously work to ensure that the people we serve experience a fulfilling life, these individuals give us so much more in return. Their determination, resilience and appreciation is humbling and deeply inspiring.”

Celebrating 50 Years
On Saturday, September 14, Lakemary celebrated its 50-year anniversary by hosting an open house at its Paola campus. Over 350 guests attended and got to explore the school, ranch and adult services building. It was a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn more about the important work that Lakemary does and discover how the organization has grown over the years. A second open house holiday party took place on Wednesday, December 4 in Olathe. Over 150 guests learned about business solutions and other adult services we provide. Santa and Mrs. Claus were also in attendance, and guests enjoyed delicious holiday treats and a hot cocoa bar.

The Miami County Republic newspaper also published a 20-page feature highlighting Lakemary’s 50-year anniversary. Click the links below to read the articles: