About Us

 
Lifesteps History

Chronological History of Lifesteps

1920s
1930s
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

1920s

1923
Attorney James E. Marshall founded Butler Crippled Children's Services and began the eventual development of the Pennsylvania Easter Seal Society. From 1923 to 1945, Mrs. James Lemmon, R.N., was hired as the first part-time employee. Rotary members and other groups sponsored events to raise money for Butler children.
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1930s

1940s

1946
Direct services began.

1947
Parent Council Group formed.
 
1949
Speech therapist hired on a part-time basis.
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1950's

1950
Physical therapist hired and a Physical Therapy program developed.
 
1952
Preschool for children with handicaps begun.
 
1954
Agency's first Executive Director was hired. The Agency was chartered and affiliated with the Pennsylvania and National Societies for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc.
 
1959
Butler Rotarians and the Parent Council Group began hosting an Annual Pancake Festival for the Butler community on Election Day with proceeds benefiting the Agency.
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1960s

1961
Through the efforts of the Parent Council Group, labor unions, and individual gifts, property was purchased at 424 North McKean Street in Butler, and the Agency had its first treatment center.
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1970s

1973
The Agency was chosen as a site for the Dantrolene Drug Research Project.
 
1974
Originated and implemented the Language Development Preschool Program.
 
1976
Agency certified by the National Easter Seal Society as meeting the standards of excellence expected of rehabilitation facilities. Agency also became a member of United Way of Butler County.
 
1977
The first satellite program in the southern part of Butler County started. The program, known as Camp Mo-Go served any preschool-aged child.
 
1978
Originated Readiness Program for preschool children.
Due to constant growth, the Agency underwent a major remodeling program to be able to continue providing quality services. Staff now numbers 15.
 
1979
The Agency was accredited by the National and State Easter Seal Society's Program and Administration Standards and found to be in full compliance with all requirements as a Rehabilitation Treatment Center.
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1980s

1980
A second center was opened in Lyndora to serve as the Adult Day Activities Center for adults with mental retardation. There are now 20 staff members working for the Agency.
 
1981
The Agency implemented a new department for Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Services. The Butler County Society assumed the responsibility of administering Easter Seal Services for Armstrong County with a clinic in Ford City.
 
1982
The Disabled Children's Program began operation as a contract for the State Department of Health.
Another Preschool Program to service the learning disabled and socially/emotionally disturbed child began.
 
1983
Recognizing exceptional growth and sophistication in programming, a new position, Director of Clinical Services, was added to the staff.
Preschool Programs were expanded. Formalized community screening program, Child Check, implemented.
Continuing growth of programs has staff at 33 professional and support personnel.
 
1985
Community OutReach Program is added to list of services to provide community-based experiences for adults with mental retardation. The Agency adds another van. The Agency receives a large grant from Intermediate Unit IV for preschool programs and equipment. A fourth center is opened, housing the BEST II Program, offering extended day care services for adults with mental retardation. A psychologist is added to the staff, which now totals 44 professional and support personnel in four centers.
 
1986
A satellite center offering preschool classes was opened at the Hope Lutheran Church in Cranberry Township.
 
1987
The annual Softball Marathon fundraiser was initiated. Programming for waiver clients at the Adult MR Center increased client load to 50.
 
1988
The first Geriatric Adult Day Care in Butler County was opened by our Agency. A $75,000 grant from the Howard Heinz Foundation was approved with the program operating in a building on Route 68 West by the Butler Farm Show Grounds.
The Agency purchased three acres of ground to build a new center, and Indiana County was formally merged with Butler to form the Butler, Armstrong, and Indiana service area. Staff totals 53 with six centers in three counties and an $850,000 budget.
A Capital Campaign, "Building The Spirit" was established to raise funds to construct a new central program facility to house all programs.
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1990s

1990
$1.5 million Capital Campaign goal reached through foundation grants, business/individual donations, and gifts-in-kind.
 
1991
Completion of new 22,000 square-foot program center in Butler. Building Dedication Ceremonies held May 31, 1991.
United Way of Indiana County welcomed Easter Seals as its 17th member agency.
 
1992
The Agency consolidated operations with Easter Seals of Beaver County and was awarded the additional territories of Lawrence and Mercer Counties. Easter Seal Centers, Inc. was formally incorporated with a fifteen-member Corporate Board of Directors serving Butler, Beaver, Indiana, Armstrong, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties. Administrative offices continue to be housed in the new Butler Program Center.
Supported Employment Program is introduced to assist persons who are physically challenged in Butler, Armstrong, and Indiana Counties in securing competitive employment.
Over 1 million units of service delivered to 28,300 people in 1992.
 
1993
Celebrated 70 years of service. Tracking Rural Area Children (TRAC) project began to identify and assess children from birth to age five in areas of development. This program--Child Check--serves all six counties through a 35-foot mobile van unit that travels to various locations screening for delays.
Entered into a new realm of programming for adults with mental retardation and opened the first Community Home in Beaver County.
Staff totals 120 in 6 counties with a $2.5 million annual budget.
 
1994
Effective September 1, 1994, the Agency became independent and was renamed Lifesteps, Inc.
 
1995
Lifesteps expanded Community Homes into Armstrong, Indiana, and Washington Counties and became a member agency of the Armstrong County United Way.
The Stroke Support Group was founded in Butler County and a $50,000 remodeling of the Beaver Center occurred.
 
1997
An Organizational Focus was conducted by the Agency and the Board of Directors, which resulted in reducing board size and other volunteer related issues. The board also reaffirmed Lifesteps' commitment to all the communities with the mission statement being revised to . . . "Helping individuals and families with life’s changing needs." 

1998
Lifesteps continues its growth in community-based Family Services with the successful grant from the Scaife Family Foundation to support the Family Care Mobile Library.
 
1999
In one of the most successful years in Agency history, Lifesteps now has 420 staff, operates in ten counties, and has a budget in excess of $10 million.
Lifesteps now operates 30 Community homes.
Lifesteps opens two new centers: The first satellite center in Armstrong County called ACOR (Armstrong Community OutReach Center), and after completion of a five-month building and remodeling project, a $250,000 state-of-the-art child care and preschool center. The preschool center is called The Early Education Center (EEC) and is located in Butler County on the grounds of the V.A. Medical Center.
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2000

The Lifesteps' Multipurpose Center was opened and is utilized for training, maintenance, historical files, and related needs. The Agency now operates in 40 locations. Lifesteps is now doing Independent Evaluation contracts in both Mercer and Lawrence Counties.
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2001

Lifesteps receives multiple grants for preschool and child care enhancement. Some examples include training for Butler County child care providers and receiving a PA Cyberstart grant for computers in our preschool programs in Butler and Beaver Counties.
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2002

Lifesteps’ President and Chief Executive Officer, Daniel E. Musko, announces retirement after 25 years of service.
Agency awarded a grant from Child Care Resource Developers (CCRD) to coordinate a Butler County-wide Council to develop a plan for improving the quality of early care and education in Butler County.
Lifesteps begins doing Independent Evaluation contracts with Armstrong and Indiana Counties.
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2003

Karen Sue Owens, Lifesteps’ Chief Operating Officer and 16-year Agency member, is unanimously elected by the Corporate Board of Directors to become the Agency’s next President and Chief Executive Officer effective July 1, 2003; a smooth and seamless transition was successfully achieved.
Lifesteps began participation in Growing Together – a program for teenage mothers and their children in foster care.
The first-ever Lifesteps’ Summer Festival at BeaveRun, attended by thousands, was successfully conducted as a weekend fundraiser showcasing world-class kart and car racing; Agency also selected to be a recipient charity of Armstrong Cable’s Butler Area Merchant’s Auction(BAMA).
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2004

Lifesteps’ new website is now active. Pittsburgh Technical Institute students donated their time to develop ideas for web design and functions.
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2005

Lifesteps begins collaborative program with Family Services of Butler Memorial Hospital and Butler Collaborative for Families, enhancing our current Parents Forever program to become Families Forever.
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2006

Lifesteps received grant funding to begin a Comprehensive Quality Initiative (CQI) process. The CQI initiative, a strategic planning process, was conducted to guide the agency in planning intelligently for the future by setting key strategic goals to assure necessary resources to support the Lifesteps’ mission. Funding also made it possible to purchase a web-based quality assessment management tool to analyze service data, giving Lifesteps the ability to provide tangible real-time outcomes.
The Agency purchased property in Indiana County to be utilized as the new Indiana County Program Center, to continue serving adults with mental retardation and to develop future program expansion.
Additionally, Washington County OutReach Program (WCOR) was opened to service mentally challenged adults in Washington County.
The Butler County Early Care & Education Council (ECEC), a community collaboration led by Lifesteps, hosted an Early Education Summit that brought together over 70 community leaders to discuss the challenges of providing quality early learning opportunities for all children and began developing a plan for action.
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2007

Lifesteps' Five Strategic Directions were formalized to help guide the Agency to better serve individuals and families with special needs. The Strategic Directions include Programs, Services, and Assurance of Quality; Staffing; Sustainability; Marketing; and Governance. They serve the Agency as the foundation for all strategic planning.
The Inaugural Star Gala was held in August at The Atrium in Prospect. The event, with Lead Sponsor Suebert & Associates, raised over $40,000 net for the Lifesteps' Family Caring Fund. Guests enjoyed a Disco theme, Grazing Social, a Signature drink and more.
The year marked the presentation of the first Lifesteps' Star Award which recognizes and honors a group that has made an impact in the lives of those with special needs or an individual who has made incredible strides living with a disability. The first year award was presented to Jennifer Linn, the 2007 President of the Butler Rotary Club, in honor of Lifesteps' founding fathers, The Butler Rotary.
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2008

Child Check, Lifesteps' free developmental and Autism screening program celebrated 25 years of service. The program, a core service for the Agency, screened over 60,000 local children for early identification of potential developmental delays during that time.
The 2008 Lifesteps' Star Award was posthumously presented to the family of John J. Chiprean, Sr. in honor of his volunteerism for Lifesteps and other local causes. Mr. Chiprean was one of several key volunteers whose energy and foresight spearheaded what is known as Lifesteps today.
Pre-K Counts, the state funded FREE 3 & 4 year olds preschool program for qualifying families began in September at Lifesteps' Early Education Centers in Butler and Beaver counties.
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2009

Lifesteps Comprehensive Quality Initiative helped the Agency to achieve a 96% rating of either excellent or good “Quality of Service.”
Over 10,000 Lifesteps Pride cards were distributed to Lifesteps’ Ambassadors to market the mission.
A Family Living Residence was opened by Lifesteps as the Agency continued to serve 133 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
John M. Eisler was posthumously honored with Lifesteps’ 2009 Star Award for his inspiration to others through his passion for philanthropy and community service.
The Annual Rotary Pancake Festival celebrated its 50th year serving over 1,500 guests and raising nearly $12,000 in net revenues for the Lifesteps Family Caring Fund.
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2010

Lifesteps began a major shift in facilities. Renovated classrooms and a new outdoor playground facility was added to Butler Early Education Center through the hard work of volunteers. Lifesteps also left a 40 year history of services on the grounds of the Veteran's Administration. Finally, Lifesteps purchased the Stirling Village facility to become an administrative head.
The 2010 Star Award presented to Rob Olszewski for his incredible determination to succeed in life overcoming the challenges of Cerebral Palsy.
Lifesteps and the Butler Rotary honored Andy Yarics, owner of the Butler Vagabond Hall, for his philanthropy to Lifesteps for donating the Hall for the Annual Pancake Festival since 1994.
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2011

4,517 children were screened through Lifesteps' Child Check program, a FREE developmental/autism screening.
Lifesteps' Board of Directors approved the purchase of an approximate 20,000 square-foot facility on Route 68 in Butler Township. The Stirling Village location now holds various administrative offices.
A foundation grant made possible Thin-Client Technology in all 40 community homes to improve communication across Lifesteps' 10 county service area.
Lifesteps hosted an online launch party for the newly redesigned website with over 2,300 visitors participating.
The Butler Center underwent major renovations to its playground, sidewalks, and parking lot thanks to grant funding and many hours of volunteer work.
The Armstong Community OutReach Center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities moved to its new location to provide an enhanced program space and additional parking.
In all, Lifesteps received almost $800,000 of grants for various services and needs.
Lifesteps' 2011 Star Award was presented to Joseph DeChellis for his endless determination to make his dreams a reality.
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2012

Lifesteps established a centralized Compliance Program to ensure business and operations are conducted in accordance with Federal and State laws/regulations, and the highest standards of business ethics.
A staff intranet portal, Lifesteps Connections, was implemented to enable staff immediate access to Agency policies, forms, reports, documents, etc.
A base station in Allegheny County for program staff and personnel recruiters was established at the Unicorn Building in Pittsburgh.
Lifesteps Early Education Centers gained approval to participate as a Pre-K Scholarship Organization in the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.
In collaboration with the Watson Institute, Lifesteps began offering Learning Experiences: an Aleternitive Program (LEAP) in Butler County, with preschool services for children with autism and their families.
Lifesteps Adult Training Facilities began a collaboration with Indiana University of Pennsylvania to participate in a Special Needs Activity Program (SNAP) offering adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities small group instruction by Health and Physical Education students in the gymnasium, fitness center, and pool.
Lifesteps Adult Day Health Services became an Center for Medicaid Services certified Enhanced program, offering extended hours, nutritious meals, and a certified nurse on site.
Lifesteps acquired two new residential homes in Butler County and operated 49 residential homes for adults with Intellectual Disabilities throughout Western Pennsylvania.
Robert Bott, a Lifesteps Community Homes Resident, received the 2012 Star Award for leading a self-determined life, and empowering and inspiring others through his service to his community.
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2013

A federal grant was awarded to Lifesteps on June 1, 2013 to provide Early Head Start services to a total of 98 children and pregnant mothers in Beaver County.
Lifesteps approved a formal Compliance Plan designed to prevent, detect, and reduce potential for fraud, waste, abuse, or other violation of federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations.
Lifesteps reached an affiliation agreement with accessAbilities, Inc.; accessAbilities Foundation, Inc.; accessAbilities Children's Services, Inc.; and All Abilities, Inc. in providing services to children and adults.
A North Hills location opened and began providing behavioral and speech services.
The Rotary District Governor, Rotary International District 7280; The Rotary Club of Butler, and F&M Bank awarded generous grants to provide free developmental screenings throughout several Western PA counties.
Lifesteps Transition Program... The Next Step began in Fall, 2013 for high school students and young adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, including Autism to provide opportunities to enhance vocational and independent living skills.
Lifesteps Adult Training Facilities started a collaboration with Progressive Workshop in Armstrong County to incorporate a recycling program at Lifesteps five Adult Training Facilities.
A generous grant enabled 26 Lifesteps Community Homes to be equipped with an electronic medication administration system.
Lifesteps approved a formal Compliance Plan designed to prevent, detect, and reduce potential for fraud, waste, abuse, or other violation of federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations.
The 2013 Star Award was presented to Diana Garmen for leading a self-determined life and inspiring others.
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