As progress on the addition to our building becomes more evident, I have been hearing many comments such as “It looks so grand,” “You must be so proud,” “It looks very impressive you must be doing really well.” While these comments are very flattering and humbling to me, they make me feel a little odd. I’ve asked myself why? Well….
This building is not just a building to me.
Since I opened the doors back in 2007, the environment was not ideal for therapy. All I had was a 8 foot by 8 foot office under Kate’s Natural Products. In that office I had my desk, a child size table, chairs, and a bookshelf. There was barely room to do therapy on the floor. But not one person ever complained. The only feedback I ever received was thanks for providing a service that was much needed in the community. I always had a picture in my head of the most ideal office space for therapy. The issue was I did not have the budget to support this. You may be surprised but pediatric therapy services do not have high reimbursement rates.
It was about 6 months after opening the doors, that the demand was more than I could manage on my own. Clients were also asking for Occupational Therapy. At that time, we went ahead and rented a second office under Kate’s. We shared this space with Wholistic Wisdom. It was workable, however not optimal, as we had to keep the noise down as not to disturb the massages happening in the room beside us. I will never forget trying to quiet down the three year old child who started talking and was squealing “bubbles bubbles bubbles!” But will always be grateful to Wholistic Wisdom for believing in me, and the mission. They were the only people willing to rent me space at a price I could afford.
After about a year and a half under Kate’s, and 3 additional staff members, the time came to search for a new space. We moved over to a Forbes property on Neff Ave. I will recall touring the space and dreaming, thinking that this would be plenty of space for the long haul. Surely we would be able to have speech, OT, and PT, with plenty of room to grow. Skip forward 2 years and see 6 people working in the small front office at a time. People sitting in corners and on floors. The clients just keep coming. You see the PT in the waiting room doing therapy because there is not an inch of space to spare.
This takes us to the search for the building on Port Republic Rd. The search for this property was very frustrating. At this point I knew we needed double the square footage we had on Neff, and I had a vision for the perfect office. However, again our budget was just too tight. We found the property on Port Rd. and said, well, we can make it work. And we thought we would never fill that building, that it would be plenty of space for the next 20 years.
It was just 5 years ago that we moved into the space, and about two years ago when we realized that we were quickly outgrowing the space yet again. At this point, I am thinking, we need to look for a long term solution. We cannot be moving every 3-5 years. We drove all over Harrisonburg and Rockingham County looking at property, land, and rental spaces. Either the location was not at all convenient, or the cost was not going to be feasible. A realtor suggested I start talking to contractors to determine what we could do with the current building. A few contractors took one look, and said there was no way we could do what we envisioned in the budget we had. Then came Bryan Nesselrodt Construction with the architectural team at Gaines Group, who said, yes, we can do this.
I shared with them my visions to make this office what we always dreamed it would be. All services fully accessible on one level, removing all of the florescent lighting, a private waiting room for counseling clientele, a “kids corner” in the waiting room, light, lots of natural light, an outdoor play and therapy space, and so much more. They listened and worked with us and figured out how to meet all of our requests.
These requests are requests from staff, clients, and families over the years. We have been paying attention. And this, is why we have wanted to do this for you:
Our families: Having a family member with a disability whether it’s difficulty producing the “K” sound, or multiple physical disabilities, all have something in common. These are people who love deeply and are willing to do anything to help their loved ones reach their full potential. These families are inspiring. They inspire us and we want to inspire them.
Our staff: Our staff are some of the most caring, compassionate, driven people you will ever meet. They are committed to helping these clients and families achieve their maximum potential.
This building is a gift to our dearest clients, families, and staff. It is not for me, for looks, or to impress. The fabulous staff and families who are in the building deserve the most optimal space. This community has embraced us and our work. They deserve to walk in these doors, smile, and relax. They deserve fresh air and sunlight. They deserve to feel safe and loved. This is for them.
Lora Nalberczinski, Owner/Founder/SLP
Dedicated to the SLCs very first client, and my friend, Chase. Photo of us circa 2009, in my office within Wholistic Wisdom.