Play-Doh. Puzzles. Post-Its. Pens. Paper. Plates.
These are just a few of the long list of items that the Augusta Levy Learning Center could use after Saturday’s devastating fire that destroyed the former Sacred Heart Church, the center’s home in North Wheeling since 2008.
And another request?
“Fix school,” said one of the students when passing by the building the other day.
While fixing may be unlikely, the immediate hope is to find an interim location for the learning center.
“We are looking for a space to hold us for six to 12 months until we find our forever home,” said Staci Stephen, ALLC’s director of development. “We’ve looked at a couple of possible options.”
For now, students and teachers are engaging in home therapy.
“Home therapy is going well. I spoke with several staff yesterday and today, and they all said the same thing, ‘It was good to see the kids.’ I think being back at therapy gives the staff and the kids some feeling of normalcy. We will be doing in-home therapy this week and probably next week and then see where we are with finding a space,” Stephen said.
Kathy Shapell, founder of the August Levy Learning Center in 2005 and retired executive director, pointed out the “extraordinary commitment to the mission” by the staff.
“The devastating fire happened on Saturday and, by Tuesday, the center had a plan in place and was providing services to our children in their homes so that there wasn’t a lapse in services to them. This is all without proper teaching materials and just making do with what the parents have at home. I think it’s remarkable,” Shapell said.
The students will be on break the first two weeks of August, and Stephen said they are hopeful a new location will be in place when they return from that break.
“We really appreciate the community for stepping up,” Stephen said.
“So many people have inquired about making donations and holding fundraisers for Augusta Levy. We are so grateful to the CFOV (Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley) and St. Michael Parrish for offering to accept our donations and to Mayor Glenn Elliott for providing us with a space for our administrative staff to work. Everyone has been so accommodating and gone out of their way to make us feel at home, and we cannot thank them enough,” said Stephen.
Shapell added, “Everyone at Augusta Levy is in awe of the Wheeling Fire Department for their tremendous efforts in fighting the fire for many hours and for their care and concern for all of us. And we are beyond grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.”
Monetary donations can be mailed to the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, 1310 Market St., Wheeling, WV 26003. Checks can be made out to ALLC. Monetary donations also can be made online at www.cfov.org. Select the donation button in the top right corner, enter Augusta Levy Learning Center in the box under designation and complete the donation.
Donations of supplies can be dropped off at St. Michael Parish office, 1212 National Road, located across the street from St. Michael Parish School. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The following is a list of short-term needs of supplies that can be dropped off at St. Michael Parrish office: printer paper (8 ½ x 11 inches), printer ink cartridges, laminating machine, laminating sheets, tape, Velcro (soft and hard), pens, three-ring binders, plastic binder dividers, sheet protectors, calculators, timers, tally counters, highlighters, all sizes of notebooks, index cards (all sizes), scissors (adult and children), crayons, markers, Play-Doh, coloring books, garbage cans (small and large), garbage bags, Clorox wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, silverware, plates, cups, napkins, puzzles, paper plates, plastic gloves, large plastic Tupperware totes, paper clips, staplers, staples, hole punchers, envelopes, Post-Its, manila folders and stamps.
The fire has been ruled accidental by the Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigations, and it is estimated it could take “seven figures” to repair the damage. The former church is owned by the Wheeling Housing Authority, which also had an office there.
Twenty-one youngsters are currently served by the autism treatment center. Stephen said they hope to increase that number, and a 30,000-square-foot space would accommodate their future needs.
• After nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal has joined Weelunk as managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.