Introduction/History
of Nashua Center

Founded in 1973

Nashua Center has been a pioneer in providing community based programs and services to individuals living with developmental disabilities since 1973. The Center was founded for a group of children whose severity of disabilities prevented them from participating in any existing public or private educational programs. It originally operated as a child care center and incorporated as the Nashua Center for the Multiply Handicapped, Inc. in 1976. Nashua Center has continually challenged “the norm” with innovative and inclusive methods of care and services.

The State of New Hampshire was the first in the nation to close its institution, Laconia State School, for individuals with developmental disabilities. Nashua Center was there to welcome them back into their communities by providing safe and caring homes and meaningful educational and vocational experiences through our Residential Services and JOBS ETC. programs. 

The evolution of inclusion had just begun and the Center actively advocated bringing about more positive changes in peoples’ lives. The Center’s segregated school was officially closed in 1992 after the last student was welcomed into his neighborhood public school. Residential options expanded beyond typical group settings as individuals connected with others in the community and made “real choices” about their living arrangements. 
 
Throughout the deinstitutionalization process of individuals with developmental disabilities in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Nashua Center remained at the forefront of community-based care. Careful planning and individualized services have allowed hundreds of our most vulnerable citizens to re-establish themselves in their communities and in many cases, reunite with their families. Developing meaningful lives for individuals once cast aside by society has served as a foundation of knowledge and philosophy for the other new service initiatives developed through the years. 
 
In 1994, when New Hampshire adopted Part H of the IDEA for home-based early intervention services, the Center established The Children’s Pyramid (TCP) to respond to the needs of those children and families in the Southern New Hampshire region. Today, TCP provides services to over 300 children each year.

Nashua Center’s mission of providing the highest quality of specialized care and support to each individual served while promoting growth in independence was extended to seniors with the launching of the CLASSIC In-Home Care (CIHC) pilot project in 2005. This decision was prompted by several issues:

  • Strategic planning initiative with funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) to address a small nonprofit organization’s aspiration for growth through service expansion for seniors and planning for future sustainability.

  • Answer to the need in the community for seniors to continue to stay in their own homes and adapting to changes in their ability to care for and about themselves and their families in the way they are accustomed.

  • Developing in-home care model to support seniors, especially ones living alone, to continue to experience family and social interactions in retained capacities with individualized help, guidance and cues as they became less able to meet their own needs.
In the fall of 2011, a formal partnership between Nashua Center and Nashua Community College was established by the Executive Director and the President, respectively. This strategic collaboration provided the support and expertise necessary to launch Nashua Center’s latest service offering through LIFE-OP

The vision of LIFE-OP is to: 

Provide a campus-based, structured and individualized post secondary education program allowing each participant the opportunity to increase their general knowledge, develop special interests, participate in “campus life” and secure long term employment connections while promoting growth in independence. 

LIFE-OP is designed to provide academic and experiential job-training for young adults living with developmental disabilities or acquired brain disorders by offering a level of support not currently available in the community. Community college programs that specifically address the needs of people with disabilities exist and do provide benefits for the people participating in them. However, they are not always accessible or trained to support individuals who have multiple or more significant cognitive disabilities. 

After 40 years of breaking down barriers and educating the community, our innovative programs have drastically improved the quality of life for hundreds of people often overlooked by society. Nashua Center has proven to have the knowledge, experience, advanced skills, and leadership needed to create meaningful and positive changes in post secondary education. 

In recent years, Nashua Center’s determination to build sustainability for its programs has led to the development of more systematic fundraising efforts and pursuit of strategic grant opportunities. Our well-known & highly acclaimed “Taste of the Towns” fundraising event continues to grow every year and has totaled more than $850,000 since its inception in 2002! The Center continues to work diligently and carefully to establish a higher profile in the Southern New Hampshire region through outreach and education of our mission, vision and guiding principles.