Leader Blues

Friday, May 30, 2008

TOP STORY > >Pathfinder set to expand

Leader staff writer

“This is an exciting time for us,” said Joan Zumwalt, chairman of the board for Pathfinder.

The organization, which works with and educates the developmentally disabled, broke ground Thursday for its new 40,000-square-foot preschool daycare center and expansion on skills training center located on its 40-acre campus on West Main and
Redmond Road in Jacksonville. Cost of the two projects total more than $10 million.

Zumwalt said the daycare should be opened in February and the skills center expansion will be completed in October.

“It’s hard to believe that we started 36 years ago with one adult and six kids,” Zumwalt said.

Pathfinder now has 28 locations across the state and is the second largest employer north of the river. “We have 1,000 employees, second only to Little Rock Air Force Base,” Zumwalt said.

She said Pathfinder is the largest provider of services to the disabled in the state. The nonprofit organization provides jobs, training and places to live for people with a range of disabilities that includes cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy and mental retardation from infancy to old age.

Pathfinder’s goal is to offer parents and individuals an option of remaining at home or in a community rather than being institutionalized.

The last few years, Pathfinders has added a $5 million administrative and treatment center and a $3.5 million skills center to its campus.