A determined new director for the Community Habilitation Center (CHC) in Kendall is hoping to expand the 40-year-old agency’s training program, despite a reduction in state-allocated funding.
The CHC agency, located on SW 79th Street adjacent to Indian Hammocks Park, offers classroom training and services for adult individuals with developmental disabilities.
“We’re currently trying to deal with a 4 percent reduction in state support,” said Natalia Laver, newly appointed executive director, speaking just days into her new position.
Dependent for two-third’s (67 percent) of its annual operating budget through the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ADP), the center hopes to initiate a new home economics class that would increase its enrollment capacity from 150 to 170 adults.
“Health is such an important area, both for training young adults for employment in food and restaurant areas, as well as teaching good nutrition habits,” Laver explained. “However, we’re pretty much dependent on ADP funds, not only to maintain our day-today service levels but begin something new we believe is needed.”
After notification July 1 of the ADP statewide reduction in funding, Laver has enlisted State Rep. Ana Rivas Logan in support of local CHC objectives and hopes to gain similar backing from State Sen. Anitere Flores.
The APD works in partnership with local communities and private providers to assist individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. In October 2004, the state agency was separated from the Department of Children and Families to serve Floridians with developmental disabilities. Prior to that time, it existed as the Developmental Disabilities Program.
Laver’s appointment was announced Aug. 11 by Roymi Membiela, CHC chair and vice president of Marketing and Public Relations for Baptist Health South Florida, who noted retiring executive director John Mazzarella’s “many years of commendable service.”
Laver, 26, already has compiled her own record of longevity with CHC, becoming active as a community service volunteer while a Sunset Senior High student.
“I’ve been with the organization ever since,” said Laver, who continued in varied posts while attending night classes at Florida International University where she graduated summa cum laude,tops in her class with a BS in Special Education and a 3.95 grade point average.
During her FIU years, she worked at CHC as a program aide, transition instructor, and support coach for employment before becoming associate director after graduation in 2008.
To supplement state funds, Laver is preparing for the center’s annual major source of contributions, a fall fashion show and luncheon on Sept. 24 with CHC individuals, aided through sponsorship of the new West Kendall Baptist Hospital.
“CHC on Broadway,” a high-energy event, includes a luncheon, fashion show and raffle at the Miami Airport Convention Center, 711 NW 72 Ave. A limited number of tickets priced at $60 are located adjacent to the runway with general seating at $45, with deadline for reservations on Sept. 9. For details, call 305-279-7999 or visit online at www.chcmiami.org or Facebook.com/chcmiami.