In September of 1950 a group of parents looking for answers to their questions about cerebral palsy, and services for their children, came together to form United Cerebral Palsy of Long Island. They knocked on doors to raise money and awareness, and by the mid 50s they had appointed a Medical Director and initiated an out patient rehabilitation program at the "Center for the Physically Handicapped" within the Brentwood School System. By the end of the decade they had secured (the donation of) property on Indian Head Road in Commack, and on March 28, 1959 ground was broken for the Suffolk Rehabilitation Center.
The Suffolk Rehabilitation Center opened in 1961 and immediately began providing medical rehabilitation and physical and occupational therapy to children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, polio, spina bifida, hemophilia, cardiac anomalies and orthopedic disabilities. Then as now less than half of those served had cerebral palsy. In the early 60s specialty medical care in pediatrics, otolaryngology, orthopedics, neurology ophthalmology and psychology became available at Suffolk Rehab, followed by an audiology center, the first in Suffolk County, offering evaluations, diagnosis and speech therapy. As the decade progressed, preschool and school age education programs were introduced, and both clinical and medical services were extended to adults. Camp Indian Head welcomed its first youngsters in the late 60s and UCP began providing services to BOCES.
The 70s dawned with full day children's programs filling the space at the Suffolk Rehab. Center on Indian Head Road. Portable activity rooms were added at the rear of the property, and a vocational exploration and rehabilitation program began. Ladies Auxiliaries and participation in a new nationwide Telethon became the core of volunteer fund raising efforts. In 1979 the organization joined an affiliate network, becoming known as United Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State, Suffolk County Committee. It was also at this time, that the concurrent growth of the child aged population and the need for more rooms for adult programs necessitated relocating our youngsters to the Smith's Lane School, known today as the UCP Children's Center.
The 80s were a time of major growth and milestones with United Cerebral Palsy of Long Island becoming and autonomous affiliate of the national association in 1983. A new Adult Day Treatment Program took over the "portables" and Voc. Rehab. spread to several locations introducing Supported Employment Services, in addition to evaluation and an on-site workshop. The Children's Center added an eight week summer component, and expanded briefly into the Circle Hill School in Commack, and then the R.J. Osgood school in Kings Park. Seven family sized Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) were acquired from New York State, and UCP of Long Island now had a Residential Program, soon complimented by the transformation of the original Indian Head Road building into a community residence for 31 adults. This was the first non-nursing home on Long Island to offer residential care to adults with physical disabilities. UCP of Long Island's competitive sports team, the Suffolk Seagulls was born in the 1980s with two cyclists, and money was raised through Bike-a-thons, Galas and Golf Outings.
UCP of Long Island ended the 20th century with extraordinary growth and expansion. Strengthening our original focus, a revitalized Diagnostic and Treatment Center re-opened in the portables at Indian Head Road. A 57,000 square foot site acquired in the Hauppauge Industrial Park was completely renovated to house Adult Daytime Programs welcoming over 250 individuals daily, and all administrative offices. The Residential Program more than doubled in size, adding Individual Residential Alternatives (IRAs) for persons needing less direct support than those in our ICFs. A HUD grant facilitated the purchase of land and construction of a 13 unit fully accessible apartment complex. Named Eaton Knolls in honor of UCP Founder, Nina Eaton, this was created for people with developmental disabilities, who could live independently. New programs/services included Day Habilitation focusing on personal choice and community integration, Creative Arts, and Service Coordination. The "Down Under Scramble" and "Women-in-Business Golf Outings" were added to the fund raising calendar.
As the new decade and century began, UCP of Long Island stayed true to its mission. The acquisition of the Community Program Center (CPC) brought UCP expertise to Day Care services for preschoolers and the elderly affected by dementia. The Children's Residential Program was initiated with two beautiful homes featuring 24/7 nursing and the integration of our school age education program. The agency was named Long Island's Outstanding Not-for-Profit organization by both the LIA (Long Island Association) and the HIA (Hauppauge Industrial Association). After many years of planning, the UCP of Long Island Health Center opened, providing a compendium of medical and clinical services, delivered by experienced, caring and credentialed professionals in a spacious, accessible setting.