COLUMBUS, Ohio - Palmer-Donavin Manufacturing Co., a leading wholesale distributor of building materials and HVAC equipment and supplies, has broken ground for a $750,000 residential respite care facility for children with mental retardation and developmental disabilities in Columbus, Ohio.

The new facility, The Palmer-Donavin House, was developed through a collaborative effort to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. The building has been designed by Berardi Partners and construction will be managed by Creative Housing Inc. with Hanlin Rainaldi Construction as the general contractor. It will be donated to, and operated by, Franklin County Residential Services Inc. (FCRS). Located alongside other FCRS buildings, it will provide a safe and temporary home for children with mental retardation or other developmental disabilities.

"We have a long history supporting mental retardation - it was the common bond that initially brought our three major shareholders together back in the mid-1960s," explained Ron Calhoun, president and chief operating officer for Palmer-Donavin. "We thought this was a great way to give back to the community."

Calhoun is on the board of FCRS and has worked closely with the group supporting other causes. This project is being funded by Palmer-Donavin as well as many of its vendors and business partners, including Crane Plastics Co. and The GLOW Foundation, who will receive permanent naming rights in the house.

"We've had a long-term relationship with Palmer-Donavin over the years," said Ed Harper, executive director of FCRS. "From a personal standpoint I was completely overwhelmed by this gift. It was a very generous and compassionate offer by the organization."

The facility will offer specialized care for up to eight disabled children for varying lengths of time, ranging from four hours to two weeks. A sliding scale will determine cost, although those involved say the cost for most families will be "minimal." The design of the house includes an activity center, meditation room, and outside recreation areas. Time spent at The Palmer-Donavin House will allow family members an opportunity to attend to their own personal needs, or just get some much-needed time away.

According to Jed Morrison, superintendent of the Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, keeping families together is key. The majority of children and adults with MRDD live with their families. Surveys with families involved in mental retardation and developmental disability programs have consistently shown that having a facility such as The Palmer-Donavin House is a critical need.

"We have found that families really want to do all they can to stay together," Morrison explained. "When there are opportunities to provide support to help these families, it really makes a big difference. This donation is a one of a kind. We're just delighted."

The Palmer-Donavin house is slated to open its doors this fall.

Publication date:05/14/2007