The Center For Specialized Services is a premier service provider for people with brain injuries, autism and developmental disabilities. Brain injuries can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. As with autism and developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, brain disorders can impact a lifetime, disrupting family, schooling and employment.

There is a constant demand for our services and we are running out of space. Clients are crammed into extremely small quarters for vital services. Offices designed for one are booked for three. Hallways are lined with people waiting for counseling, therapies and job skills training. Our two landmark social enterprises, Destination Desserts and Wags in a Bag have outgrown their kitchen and preparation spaces, forcing us to turn away people eager for these on-site job training programs. And it’s not just inside space – being parallel to Page Avenue is risky for people whose sensory needs include the impulse to run.

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, we are preparing to serve the next generation of people in need. We have identified a structurally sound “fixer upper” for a reasonable price. It is centrally located, not far from our present location and is situated on three acres with great access to public transportation.

A second wonderful opportunity has been presented to us. Destination Desserts, our bakery, food truck and catering company, has been invited to establish a bakery/restaurant by the St. Louis Office of Developmental Disability Resources (DDR). They have pledged 80% of the cost. This opportunity will allow us to expand training and employment in the city and create greater recognition and awareness of the Center and its programs.

The cost of establishing a new headquarters and renovating the storefront in St. Louis City will total $2.135 million.

As you read the stories of Richard, Raven and Cade, keep in mind that there are hundreds of people like them who are capable of leading full, meaningful lives with just a little help.

Richard’s story

Richard suffered massive brain injuries when, as a pedestrian, he was hit by a car. He was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital, but was miraculously revived. Fourteen years later, after many surgeries and over 14 months in the hospital, he is a study in strength, perseverance and courage.

“My recovery is like solving a puzzle, 24/7. Most tasks that others take for granted, I have to solve over and over again. The Center For Specialized Services helped me get to where I am today… I have my own job, a home of my own and I drive a car. I have my life and my self-esteem back. I believe in never saying never.”

Raven’s story

Raven has achieved much already as a senior at Fontbonne University. She was born with cerebral palsy, which limits her to a wheelchair. She wants to go on to secure a master’s in criminology and a law degree. Her plan is to assist women, teens and homeless people. Raven has exceeded others’ expectations by attending college, choosing a career and living on her own.

“I want to be someone with a purpose. That purpose is to give back to those less fortunate than me. And if people see that I can accomplish great things, they’ll be inspired to accomplish their own goals too.”

The Center has helped Raven to learn the skills she needs to live independently. “I’ve never had a complete stranger go to bat for me like that. The staff at the Center is a godsend.”

Cade’s story

Cade spoke his first words when he was five. He hit and had tantrums at school and home. His family didn’t know how to help him and the rural school district where he lived didn’t have the resources to help. At age eight, Cade was diagnosed with autism and received funding for a highly successful therapy for people with autism. Since there were no such services where he lived, Cade and his family were guided to the Center. One of the Center’s certified therapists, travels five hours roundtrip to deliver what has become a life altering service to Cade and his family. He first taught Cade how to use words to communicate, eliminating most of his frustration and tantrums.

Cade has made huge progress and now, at age 10, goes to school every day. Cade’s mother says he is “understood at school and is doing very well. We feel more hope for his future and now know there are things we can do to help him.”

This expansion will:

  • Double the number of people we serve
  • Save over $100,000 per year and invest it in innovative services
  • Train more people to find and keep meaningful employment
  • Expand tele-health to reach people in rural areas
  • Maximize other revenue-generating opportunities, like counseling services
  • Allow more people to live independently on their own, avoiding nursing home care and public assistance while increasing dignity and quality of life
  • Offer proper space for Destination Desserts and Wags in a Bag, creating sustainability
  • Provide a calming indoor environment and outdoor green space to assist people in the healing and recovery process

Your support will be a gift that keeps giving year after year, helping people like Richard, Raven and Cade regain lost skills, find meaningful employment and thrive independently. You can help make these amazing opportunities possible.

With your support, we won’t have to turn away children and adults just because we lack space and resources. With your help, we can serve the community for the next 30 years. 

Many naming opportunities exist for your generosity, from naming the entire campus in tribute to or in memory of a loved one, to the beautiful kitchen where treats and smiles abound, to therapeutic and office space, to pavers that line the walkways.

Missouri state tax credits (worth 50% of the value of the donation) are available for donors who make gifts of $500 or more! Learn more here.

Please join us! Invest in the lives of people seeking a lift of dignity. Your gift will have an impact and will change lives.