The Augusta Levy Learning Center broke ground today, Monday, Oct. 7, for the new “Fortress for Heroes,” at 210 Anthoni Avenue in Wheeling, next to Springhill Suites, located in the Woodsdale section of Wheeling.
The ceremony marked the beginning of construction on an 18,000-square-foot building that will house several businesses. The building is expected to be completed next summer. Bedway Development Corp. will be overseeing the project that will allow Augusta Levy Learning Center to expand its services and create more job opportunities.
“Today, in breaking ground on the new building, we start a new chapter in the story of the Augusta Levy Learning Center,” said ALLC Executive Director Angela Wood.
“Following the fire in 2018, we were desperate to find a space that would allow us to continue providing life-changing services to our students. Our hope was to find a space that would also allow us to serve even more children from our waiting list, and we have finally found that space. We could not have done any of this without the community support and we cannot thank you enough! We are elated about the beginning of construction and the possibilities this new building brings.”
The new space will have eight large classrooms, eight individual classrooms, a living skills room, a sensory room and an occupational therapy room. The students will once again have a playground and a garden, which were lost in the fire.
The new space is not only designed to provide high quality services to the current population, but to many more children on our ever-growing wait list. Within the next five years, the center plans to serve twice the number of children currently enrolled at ALLC. Increased enrollment also will lead to more jobs for the community.
The Augusta Levy Learning Center opened its doors in 2005 at the Zion Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, providing services for two students with autism.
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In 2008, the Wheeling Housing Authority offered the bottom floor of the Sacred Heart Church to ALLC. The staff members and families spent weeks remodeling the space to fit the needs of the students. The staff, students and families called that space home for nine years, but in July of 2018, that home was lost to a devastating fire. The Regional Economic Development Partnership offered the center a temporary space in the building located at the corner of 10th and Main streets in Wheeling until a forever home was found.
In order for this dream to become a reality, ALLC will be forging the “From Ashes to Bricks” Capital Campaign to raise money for the building, program expansion and scholarship support. Augusta Levy Learning Center has already raised nearly a million dollars toward the campaign and hopes to raise $6,000,000 by 2025.
Thanks to a generous anonymous donation, the new building will be named “The James and Sue Porter Building,” after two of the center’s biggest supporters. Sue, or “Sue-Bee” as some of ALLC alumni call her, was one of the first employees at ALLC. Her husband, Jim — who passed away over a year ago — always attended the annual kickball tournaments, lending a helping hand when needed. ALLC founder and former executive director, Kathy Shapell, is the daughter of the Porters.
Naming rights for all rooms, garden and the playground are still available. If you are interested in making a donation to one of the three pillars of the campaign, you can donate online at www.augustalevy.org or mail a check to ALLC at P.O. Box 6711, Wheeling WV 26003.