Kate’s Place Inc., a social program for developmentally delayed teens and young adults 18 and older, invites the Moorestown community to celebrate its 15th anniversary during a 1-mile evening walk.
“We did a walk for the 10th anniversary … With the 15th year coming up, we decided we would try to do this walk once again,” said the nonprofit’s founder and Executive Director JoAnn McNamee.
“ … We’re trying to raise money to get our own facility …” she added. “That’s just our goal right now for fundraising is to try to get it (to) where we can have our own place.”
According to katesplaceinc.org, the program’s mission is to provide a safe and friendly environment for developmentally delayed teens and young adults and is primarily designed for those who are not able to be on their own but have the inherent human need for independence and socialization with their peers.
McNamee shared how she started the program that has grown from four to 20 young adults and is named after her daughter.
“I just really felt the need that the young adults would need somewhere to go after graduating school,” she explained. “I just continued to look it up online and wondered, ‘Should I do this? Should I do this?’ And finally, I did (do) that.”
“I hit the button and away we went.”
Kate’s Place was previously housed at Kingsway Learning Center and for 13 years at First United Methodist Church in Moorestown.
“It was time for us to move from there,” McNamee said of the latter church. “There were space issues and different things like that.”
Kate’s Place has many supportive volunteers whom McNamee praised, specifically for their help when she developed breast cancer three years ago.
“I had to go through radiation, a year of chemo(therapy) and two surgeries, and the whole time that we were doing all of that, my volunteers were such a huge help,” she recalled. “There’s no way to thank them enough for carrying us through that time period …
“Everyone that has been with us so far is very dedicated, loving and compassionate for all of my group.”
The nonprofit consists of a lot of physical activity, healthy snack options and learning life skills and appropriate social behaviors. McNamee shared a favorite event of hers at Kate’s Place.
“This gang really loves to party, so when they all graduated high school, every one of them said (that) the thing they were going to miss the most was a prom,” she noted. “From that point on, every year we have had (a) knockdown, drag out, dress-me-up prom for them, and they look forward to that tremendously.”
McNamee looks forward to celebrating 15 years of Kate’s Place.
“Fifteen years is exciting … I just hope that we can make 15 more,” she said, “even if I have handed (it) over to someone else to do at any given time, just so they (the participants) can stay together.”
“That’s the point that I feel is important.”
To learn more about Kate’s Place and/or join the anniversary walk, visit www.katesplaceinc.org.