Encompass to expand, get new director
June 18, 2008
By Laura Geggel
North Bend City Council declares June 19 Nancy Whitaker Day
As executive director Nancy Whitaker retires from her 22-year tenure at Encompass, Director of Development Gregory Malcolm plans to pick up the reigns and drive the center into a full-throttle expansion.
The increasing number of parents seeking special-needs youth support services has prompted Encompass to expand its pediatric therapy services. Encompass began subleasing a suite above the John L. Scott office on North Bend Way and plans to fill it with offices and three pediatric therapist rooms to help relieve the crowded workplace at Encompass’ Boalch Avenue location by July.
“We started a pilot program a couple of months ago and immediately filled all of the spots,” said Malcolm. “That boded well to have the extra space to house the therapy program in.”
Encompass currently only has one room for pediatric therapy, which serves children from birth to 3 years.
Many of Encompass’ therapists travel to their clients’ homes and provide speech therapy services and feeding programs. The new center will help families with children older than 3 years who want to continue using Encompass therapists.
Encompass serves families in the Snoqualmie Valley, Riverview and Issaquah school districts; a good impetus for starting branches in those areas as well.
“We’re hoping, based on the model of pediatric therapy, that (Encompass) also has the opportunity of expanding into other communities because of the demand,” Malcolm said.
Much of Encompass’ success is owed to Whitaker, whose careful guidance has helped weave the center into the very fabric of the community.
A group of parents started Encompass in 1967 after a fruitless search for an organization helping families with special-needs children. Many Washington state school districts did not offer special education classes until the mid-1980s, so the group began its own school.
Whitaker became personally acquainted with the organization, then the SnoValley Developmental Center, in 1980, following the premature birth of her twin boys. Doctors diagnosed one of her twins with Down’s syndrome
“We started using the services here, using developmental therapy,” Whitaker said. “We began meeting other parents who had children with delays. It was a great help for our family.”
Volunteer work led her to join the Board of Directors before Whitaker became a staff member in 1986. Back then, the center had an annual budget of $160,000. Now Encompass is bursting the $2 million seam to fund its many programs, ranging from preschool and playgroups to parenting classes and parent-child interaction training.
Their programs get results. For parent-child interaction training, Encompass staff video-record the child’s first and last sessions, allowing the parents to see the child’s growth.
“Twenty percent of the kids in the program go on to school without needed special-support,” Whitaker said.
Becky Kitz’s now 21-year-old daughter was born with Down’s syndrome and used the birth to 3 years program.
“Nancy was the first person to come out to the house,” Kitz said. “She’s a very kind, caring, compassionate person. She’s always done more than necessary with her job. “When my daughter was 6-months-old and had to go to Children’s Hospital for some tests, Nancy came there with me for support.”
Kitz has since served on the Board of Directors and attended the center’s annual Gala and Queen for a Day fundraisers.
After her last day of work June 27, Whitaker said she plans to enjoy her 8-month-old grandson, go skiing with her sister and travel. She hopes to find an independent living center for her son with Down’s syndrome, who currently lives with her.
“It just felt like the right time to step away,” Whitaker said. “I am looking forward to having more free time.”
At their last meeting, the North Bend City Council declared June 19 Nancy Whitaker Day. An invitation-only reception will be held from 5-8 p.m. at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Course, 36005 SE Ridge St., Snoqualmie.
Reach reporter Laura Geggel at email@example.com or 392-6434.