The Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC), a SVH Services Program, and the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, May 23rd at 12:00pm.
Local community members, leaders and officials joined together with BRAAC and Chamber representatives to celebrate the completion of the stunning expansion at the BRAAC site on Whitwell Drive in Roanoke.
The ceremony included special guest speaker, Delegate Sam Rasoul, Virginia House of Delegates – 11th District, along with two special presentations by Jessica Fintel on behalf of Joe McNamara, Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman, and Lea Riddle, SVH Services Board of Directors Chair.
“The expansion of the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center will leave a lasting impact on our community. This expansion will help fill a gap and provide services for adolescents as they prepare for life after high school. I am happy to see our community support the expansion of such a vital organization,” Speaker Delegate Rasoul stated.
The $1.7 million expansion added an addition 12, 650 square feet to the 25,000 square feet the facility already maintains. The new space includes the Joseph W. Webb Center – a life skills center, sponsored by the Roanoke Women’s Foundation, plus a vocational training center, athletic center, additional one-on-one spaces, transitional classrooms and larger STARS classrooms.
“We are thrilled to share the new space with our community,” stated Christina Giuliano, Executive Director of BRAAC. “This expansion is going to give us the opportunity to grow from serving 65 students to 118 over the coming years. To be able to meet the needs of our children and adolescents, preparing them for adulthood and teaching independent living and job training skills is a gift.”
As part of the ceremony, BRAAC unveiled a puzzle piece sculpture, designed and built by Mechatronics and Welding students from Burton Center for Arts and Technology lead by instructor Chris Overfelt; Ms. Fintel honored BRAAC with a Certificate of Appreciation from Roanoke County; and the SVH Services Board of Directors honored Angie Leonard, CEO and founder of BRAAC. The new lobby of the expansion has been named in Ms. Leonard’s honor for her dedication and service to BRAAC.
“While this expansion has taken the tremendous effort of many folks in our community, the one person that is responsible more than any other for today is Angie Leonard,” stated Riddle. “Her vision and dedication to families and children with learning disabilities, to BRAAC and to SVH Services continues to amaze us, the Board, the community and the families we serve.”