Logan Autism Center in Benton Harbor growing quickly at 1-year mark

NOW: Logan Autism Center in Benton Harbor growing quickly at 1-year mark

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- As Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley toured Benton Harbor’s Logan Center on Wednesday, a conversation about how to continue serving southwest Michigan’s autism community took place.

“Moving to this new facility has just really opened up doors for what we can do for the community, which has been remarkable,” said Kristin Wier, the director of Logan Center’s Benton Harbor campus.

It was September 2016 when ABC57 covered the ribbon cutting at the new campus – the first non-profit autism learning center in southwest Michigan.

One year later, the students have come in droves.

And on Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Calley visited to check it all out.

He said he noticed a lot of good signs.

“[Staff members were] taking data right along the way, so that you know in real time how a student is doing and what interventions are working and when you need to make adjustments,” he said. “And then also, to provide positive reinforcement when a child accomplishes something.”

Over 150 clients with autism come to the Benton Harbor center – almost double the amount when it opened one year ago.

The building it’s in was an abandoned school before Logan arrived.

“We decided to renovate and then fundraise, so that our ability, my ability, to fundraise did not determine these children’s, these people’s access to services,” said Patrick Roemer, the director of development for Logan.

The building was transformed into a safe and state-of-the-art sanctuary for learning.

Now, Roemer is asking for your help to finish up fundraising to cover the costs of renovation.

$1.6 million was poured into the center.

$1.4 million has been donated by local businesses and corporations.

Now the Logan Center is turning to the community to raise the last $200,000.

“What you’re donating to is not necessarily a building,” Roemer said. “The way I see it, you’re donating because you believe in these kids’ ability to really make a life for themselves.”

Wier said there is a constant need for more resources. She said the building is already nearing capacity because access to local autism services is so great.

“We have calls every day, throughout the day, of people who are still in need of service,” she said.

But Wier and her staff said the work Calley has done – as lieutenant governor and the father of a daughter with autism – has been monumental.

“Reforms and passing laws, those are words on a piece of paper until somebody brings them to life,” Calley said. “And that’s why I love to make visits like this because that policy, you can see it in action. You can see kids whose lives are being changed and that’s what it’s all about.”

Calley helped pass some Michigan laws in 2012 that allowed more families to access vital autism therapies and services at a more affordable price.

Each child that comes to the Benton Harbor Logan Center gets one-on-one attention that really proves to be beneficial.

If you’re interested in donating to the Logan Center, you can visit their website by clicking here.

And if you’re a politics fan, we also asked Calley if he plans on running for governor – a rumor that’s been swirling for months.

On Wednesday, he said he didn’t have any announcements to make yet, but he added that we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

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