From our beginning in 1923 as part of the National Society for Crippled Children to our independent status as Lifesteps today, we have been helping individuals and families with life’s changing needs lead better lives. Today, the Agency helps thousands of individuals annually; and provides outreach to tens of thousands of area families. The Lifesteps staff creates a culture that works to foster independence and to provide exceptional care and support to all we serve.
Tragedy Leads to Inspiration
In 1907, Ohio businessman Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar accident. The lack of adequate medical services available to save his son prompted Allen to sell his business and begin a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio.
Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Concerned by this discovery, Allen put all his efforts into collecting private donations for a hospital to provide services for disabled children. In 1915, the Gates Hospital for Crippled Children was established solely for disabled children and the services were offered free of charge.
When the community hesitated to accept the free services, Allen enlisted the Rotary Clubs of Ohio as volunteers to help gain the trust of the communities and assist with the care of the children. By 1919, Allen and Ohio Rotarians established what became known as the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind. The organization had chapters throughout the Midwest and northeast, including Pennsylvania, just two years later. The umbrella organization and its chapters later became known as the Easter Seal Society.
Local Community Support Leads To Independence
From eight programs and services offered in 1954, the local agency grew to offer 35 programs and services by 2002. Community support also continued to grow. The community supported the Agency through sponsorship’s, special events and volunteering. Strong community support and commitment lead the agency to break away from the Easter Seal Society in 1994 and become an independent nonprofit agency known as Lifesteps, Inc.
Lifesteps mission is supported by hundreds of businesses and individuals. Whether Lifesteps has required more facility space or funds to add services for the community, Lifesteps has been able to call on the community for the support it has needed to accomplish its goals. Lifesteps, in turn, has continued to answer the call when the community has needed new services to help individuals and families with life’s changing needs.