Posted on January 23, 2024
This spring, Penn-Mar will be holding our second Grand Opening at Penn-Mar North’s Far Hills facility. This celebration will be the culmination of many years of thoughtful, strategic planning to ensure that our organization is providing the best environment possible for the people we support and a high-quality world-class facility for our team members.
Not only was this most recent renovation delivered on-time and on-budget by our contracting firm, Kinsley Construction, but it is exactly the space we have needed to “right size” our operations and consolidate all our programmatic and Pennsylvania-administered programs in one place. With the completion of this latest phase, the new building will meet the way our services are provided today, and in the future, and most effectively help us achieve our mission.
Over the years we’ve gone through a number of space planning iterations aligned with the services we provided. When we ceased the sheltered workshop production activities in 2012, we were left with a lot of open space at our Glen Rock location and began to rethink what our future services and space needs might look like.
At one time we thought about selling one of the Glen Rock buildings and renovating the other, but the cost analysis made us shift gears. So, in 2017, we decided to purchase a 35,000 sq. ft. facility on Far Hills Drive in New Freedom, funded by the sale of our two Glen Rock buildings, to better customize our space needs. We also negotiated a leaseback arrangement with the new owner to continue housing our training and administration operations while the Far Hills renovations were underway.
A year later we celebrated our first Grand Opening at Far Hills to introduce the local community, staff, individuals, families, and friends to our new Far Hills Learning Center. The Phase I renovations included a small gym, individual training rooms, and computer classrooms. There were also customized settings conducive to concentrated learning where music, speech and art therapists could work with small groups of people.
The facility’s design reflected the evolution of employment, vocational and day service programs to the community centered model of today. COVID put a halt to our Phase II plans which is why it has taken us a few years longer than hoped to complete the final renovations. But complete them we have, and our Pennsylvania training and administrative teams are now in the process of relocating from the leased Glen Rock building to their new space at Far Hills.
The success of our Building Bold Futures Campaign helped us meet our financial goals and lower the amount of debt we were holding on the building. There were many pivots along the way but ultimately, the decisions we made with the support of our Board were good directionally.
Thirty years ago, I could never have imagined that Penn-Mar would be the innovative leader it is today supported by world-class facilities. We are well positioned for the next several decades, with expansion capabilities if needed, and the advantage of now having all of our teams in a common location.
We have mastered and made use of the incredible technology tools that helped us survive the pandemic and we welcome the new advances to come. But regardless of the direction that takes, nothing will ever replace the person-to-person, face-to-face contact that is essential to building relationships and helping the people with disabilities we support Live Courageously. And in the end, that is what matters most to me.