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Children's Study Home celebrates anniversary

Date: 5/4/2010

May 5, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- In 1865, a group of Springfield residents formed the Springfield Home for Friendless Women and Children as a way to help "friendless and destitute women and children and to give them employment and instruction with the ultimate design of providing for them a more permanent situation or fitting them to maintain themselves."

Last week, not only did the organization now known as the Children's Study Home (CSH) celebrate its 145th anniversary, but it also opened its newest facility, the Family Center in Mason Square at 44 Sherman St.

Attorney Gary Martinelli, president of the organization's board of directors, called the new additions a "new direction for us" at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Family Center last week.

The facility will provide "wraparound family services," he added.

The CSH proves services for at-risk children, youth and families through educational, residential and family services. The new Family Center will have programs to address the stresses placed on families by poverty, unemployment, violence and substance abuse.

"The Family Center will provide a range of services to children and families in the community," Steve McCafferty, the executive director of the CSH, said. "Parent education, visitation programs and family resources are critical to building healthy families and hence strengthening communities. The center will bring these services in a safe and comfortable setting where children and their parents can feel free to seek the help they need."

Debra Call, the CSH's director of clinical services, said the new Family Center "is more than a building, more than a sign on a building it's a commitment to the work ... we do on a regular basis."

The renovation of the building was funded in part by a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant from the city of Springfield. Mayor Domenic Sarno, who once headed the South End Community Center, said that he has "never left my non-profit roots" and understands the challenges faced by social service agencies.

He explained he had been able to put together a $750,000 pool of federal funds he could allocate to non-profit groups for capital projects so their services wouldn't be affected.