Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Laradon Hall

“I’m sorry, Mr. Calabrese, but our system simply has no place for your sons.” It was a statement Joe Calabrese had heard many times before as he tried to find a school that would admit his two developmentally disabled boys. After this last rejection, Calabrese and his wife Elizabeth decided to do what all the experts said couldn’t be done: start a school to educate these special children and give them a place in society. The school would be named Laradon Hall after their sons, Larry and Don. 
Laradon Hall opened in September of 1948 in an old house at 3129 Federal Boulevard with Larry, Don and one other pupil. Three months later, the school was at full capacity with 12 residents, 13 day students and a long waiting list. As the school struggled for survival, a powerful ally, the Colorado State Association of Elks, came to the rescue, designating Laradon as its Major Project in 1950, and contributing $25,000 for the purchase of the old Globeville School at 5100 Lincoln Street. Over the years, the organization has provided a level of friendship and support by donating food, clothing, supplies and equipment, and sponsoring social and recreational activities for participants. Members of the Elks have served on Laradon’s board of directors and committees.
Today, Laradon has an annual enrollment of over 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities in programs that include day, residential and employment services. Each client is provided with an individualized plan of support that includes academics, vocational training, and community experiences to reach his or her potential. In March 2007 the school purchased the adjacent property and continues to raise funds to expand educational services, and the parking lot and playground. 

Donald and Larry would pass away in 1962 and 1982, respectively and Joe in 1986. Elizabeth died in 2011 at age 100 but the Calabrese' dream of a better life for children with special needs lives on in Laradon Hall in the Globeville neighborhood.

Left to right, Dr. Allen Murphy and his wife Ann, 
State Elks President Lew Kitts, Elizabeth and Joe Calabrese 
at the dedication of Laradon Hall

Laradon today, 5100 Logan Street

Garden of Hope: Laradon Hall, George V. Kelly with Harry Farrar, 1980, Pruett Publishing Company, Boulder, Colorado