Merriam, Kan. – Shawnee Mission Health, in partnership with The Foundation for Shawnee Mission Medical Center, today held a groundbreaking ceremony for the B.E. Smith Family Center. Demolition and excavation of the site is underway, with construction beginning soon.
Two years ago, Doug and Nan Smith pledged a lead gift to The Foundation for SMMC, igniting a campaign to raise $24.5 million to build the B.E. Smith Family Center – a new home for the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center and SMH Early Learning Center. The new building will replace the outdated facilities where the centers currently operate and enhance their therapeutic treatment and educational offerings
The Britain IDC provides therapeutic treatment and early education with a unique, family-involved approach to children ages birth to six years with a variety of developmental challenges, including Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other conditions. Individualized programs are crafted for each child by a team of physical, occupational and music therapists, speech language pathologists, early childhood special education teachers, behavior analysts and social workers. Currently, the program serves over 200 children each week.
The ELC provides faith-based child care and education to children of the physicians and associates of SMH. Through its nearly 40-year history, the ELC has played a vital role in helping SMH attract and retain top-quality care givers – resulting in better care for patients. The ELC serves over 600 children each year.
“We are thrilled to break ground today on the new facility – one that will deliver care for children in a new, intentionally-designed environment,” said Doug Smith. “Nan and I hope the B.E. Smith Family Center will allow children to benefit from the enhanced programming and will alleviate some of the financial burdens their families may be experiencing, in addition to providing affordable, Christian-based child care for the associates of Shawnee Mission Health.”
The new facility, planned as a two-story, 67,950 square-foot building, will include an expanded aquatic therapy unit, made possible by a $1 million gift from the Tom W. Olofson Family Foundation, and an expanded space for the Britain IDC’s autism program. Designed to provide a modern learning environment for children of all ability levels, the Center will foster collaboration and connection between children, families and staff, and promote understanding and inclusion of children with special needs.
“Shawnee Mission Health has a long history of giving back to the community,” said Ken Bacon, president and CEO of SMH. “By bringing these two programs together under one roof, we are creating a unique community, promoting an environment of inclusion, understanding and acceptance. The B.E. Smith Family Center will allow us to impact the lives of more of our community’s young children as they learn and grow in a modern environment with the most advanced technology.”
In January, the Foundation for SMMC received a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation for the B.E. Smith Family Center project. Other significant gifts have been received from the Sunderland Foundation, the Hall Family Foundation and Gary and Stephanie Goscha.
“This is a truly exciting day for The Foundation and the children and families we serve. Generations of community children will have a bright future because of the generosity of our donors and philanthropic community,” said Lou Gehring, senior executive director of The Foundation for SMMC.
SMH is partnering with Turner Construction Company, SVPA Architects of West Des Moines and in association with EYP on the project. The project is expected to be complete in fall 2019.