Missouri Autism Report January
Missouri Autism Report for January
www.MoAutismReport.com Page 11 MISSOURI AUTISM NEWS January 2012 $3 Million donated to fund construction of new Ozark Center for Autism Edited from Press Release JOPLIN, Mo.—A $3 million donation from local residents, Bill and Virginia Leffen, will fund the reconstruction of Ozark Center for Autism, which was destroyed by the May 22 tornado. The new facility, which will be located at 2808 Picher Avenue, will be named the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, in honor of the couple. “The impact of this gift can never be measured,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Ofﬁcer-elect a n d administrator for all autism programming. “It is impossible to measure the impact of changing a childʼs life. Thanks to Bill and Virginia Leffen, Ozark Center for Autism will return better and stronger than ever. On behalf of our staff, our students, our parents, and all of those who have yet to be touched by the school, I offer our most sincere gratitude.” The donors are long-time Joplin residents. Bill Leffen, one of the ﬁrst babies born at Freeman Hospital, is an avid supporter of the Freeman health system, former Navy man, banker and 25 year Board of Trustees for Commerce member in Kansas City and St. Louis. In 1972, he served as chairman of the Freeman Hospital Fund Drive. Wife, Virginia, a retired interior designer, now enjoys her six children, 15 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. The Leffenʼs donation will enable Ozark Center for Autism to place all its services in a single, state-of- the-art location, including its diagnostic center, kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms, and preschool. This new facility will also feature mock home- environment rooms, a small theater, a kitchen for cooking classes, mock community- experience rooms, and a multipurpose gymnasium. Planning for construction of the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism is underway, though a completion date has not been set. The school is currently operating out of its second temporary facility, located at 3230 South Wisconsin Avenue, Suite D. It will remain in this location until the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism is completed. Caption: Back row: Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer-elect and administrator for all autism programming, and Jennifer Kirby, Ozark Center for Autism Clinical Director. Front row: Virginia Leffen, Bill Leffen, and their daughter, Beth Cole.