Cisco Center Returns To Home And Throws Big Bash To Celebrate
By Dylan Roche
It has been a long journey toward recovery, but the Cisco Center is finally able to reopen its doors to the community. In celebration, the facility for children with special needs held a Big Bash on May 20 to introduce the newly renovated building and show appreciation for the many members of the community who made it possible.
We couldnt have done this if it wasnt for the community, said special educator Cisco Nochera, who co-founded the center with his wife, Carla. Im so grateful to everyone who made this possible.
The Big Bash recognized the many benefactors who aided the recovery, and introduced friends, supporters and families to the new building. The event included food and drinks, a tent outside for guests to mingle, a tour of the facility, and an awards ceremony to recognize those who helped.
It was back in February, 2010, when a nighttime fire ravaged the Cisco Center, destroying the building and everything inside. Thanks to the generosity of Vineyard Childcare Center in Millersville, which offered two rooms free of rent, the Cisco Center has been able to continue their program. But the limited space has made operation difficult, and the Cisco Center overcame many hurdles to return home.
With insurance covering none of the devastating fire damage, and neither the state nor county providing any money, the Cisco Center has relied on the support of those who rallied to help.
Businesses and organizations from Severna Park and Pasadena alike provided resources. A board of directors came together to raise $100,000, hire contractors and obtain building permits. Local public and private schools made donations and organized fundraisers. Businesses and individual residents made contributions as well. Everything from building materials to new classroom supplies has been donated or purchased with fundraising.
The rebuilt Cisco Center is set on nearly one acre, alongside a playground and circular driveway. Inside, the facility includes three classrooms for occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy, all of which are located on the first floor. Upstairs is a conference room and workspace for staff and parents, as well as a classroom for older children. With all the extra space, Nochera hopes to expand by adding programs, bringing on new teachers, and increasing the number of kids. He also hopes to use the conference room for parent training and parent support groups.
Cisco Center is the only special-needs child center in the county, thus being a resource and an asset to families who have few alternatives. As the public school system suffers budget cuts, it eliminates services and education for children with special needs.
The Cisco Center maintains a 2-to-1 ratio of students to teachers and actively fundraises to provide scholarships. If parents want their children here, we will get them here, he said. Money shouldnt be a deterrent.
With the new facility, Nochera envisions the Cisco Center as eventually becoming an all-encompassing, one-stop place for families of children with disabilities by offering support groups, therapy, education, workshops and kids nights. We work with the whole family, in support of the family, he explained.
But even as the facility returns home, Nochera maintains deep gratitude for the support of community businesses and organizations. If it werent for them, there wouldnt be a facility for kids with special needs. He acknowledged the sheer number of businesses and organizations who showed support.
Theres no way of expressing how important that is to us and how much it means to us, he said.
With so much overwhelming support, the Cisco Center is able to continue its mission of helping families and changing lives. As Nochera observed, Its a tearjerker.