Hine Fund Gives $500K to Rich Center

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Paula & Anthony Rich Center for Autism has secured one of the largest donations in its history as it embarks on one of its most ambitious expansions.

The Hine Memorial Fund of the Youngstown Foundation on Wednesday presented the Rich Center with an oversized check for $500,000 toward its “Building for Tomorrow 2020” capital campaign.

“This is a huge step for us,” said Melanie Carfolo, executive director of the Rich Center. The center intends to renovate and occupy the entire building at 640 Elm St. on the campus of Youngstown State University. Currently, the center occupies only the first floor.

Crissie Jenkins, representing the Hine Memorial Fund, said the gift reflects the spirit of the Youngstown Foundation and its dedication to supporting important causes that affect the community.

“The Youngstown Foundation is celebrating its 100th anniversary,” Jenkins said, “and we wanted to make a gift that would have a large community impact and on the families that have children with disabilities.”

This is the largest gift the Hine Memorial Fund has made to the Rich Center, she noted. “It was a perfect fit for us.”

The Rich Center’s “Building for Tomorrow” capital campaign hopes to raise $6 million by the year 2020 so it can expand its programs, upgrade the building and provide more services to those enrolled in the school.

Bergen Giordani, director of development for the Rich Center, said the school plans to double its enrollment to 150 students from 75 students. Among the new programs planned are life-skill centers in the lower level, more classroom space on the ground floor and adding a sensory room for older students.

“We’re hoping to have everything done by September of 2020,” she said.

The Rubino, Ricchiuti and Kosar families established the Rich Center for Autism to provide needed services for autistic children so they learn how to live in society. The school has grown from a six-week summer program for preschoolers to a year-round center for students who range in age from 2½ to 19.

The Rich Center provides at no cost research, education, therapy, and support to families and children with autism.

Demand for services for those with autism has skyrocketed over the last several years, Carfolo said. “Almost 20 years ago, the incidents of autism were one in 10,000,” she said. “Now, it’s one in 68, and those numbers are continuing to increase. There’s certainly demand for services for children on the autism spectrum.”

Pictured above at the check presentation ceremony are Crissie Jenkins, Phyllis Ricchiuti, Geri Kosar, Greg Boerio, and Melanie Carfolo.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.