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Youth Villages breaks ground on $22M expansion

Leaders at Youth Villages and in Bartlett turned over the first few shovelfuls of dirt at its new $22 million expansion of the Bartlett campus. The enhanced “Bill’s Place” facility is slated to open in the spring of 2019. From left are Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell; DCS Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich; Youth Villages Board Chairman Bryan Jordan; Greg Lawler, brother to Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler; Marjorie Lawler, mother; Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler; Youth Villages Board of Directors and Chairman of the Capital Campaign Jimmy Lackie; Chairman Emeritus Mike Bruns; and Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald. Photo by Amanda Swain.

Leaders at Youth Villages and in Bartlett turned over the first few shovelfuls of dirt at its new $22 million expansion of the Bartlett campus. The enhanced “Bill’s Place” facility is slated to open in the spring of 2019. From left are Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell; DCS Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich; Youth Villages Board Chairman Bryan Jordan; Greg Lawler, brother to Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler; Marjorie Lawler, mother; Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler; Youth Villages Board of Directors and Chairman of the Capital Campaign Jimmy Lackie; Chairman Emeritus Mike Bruns; and Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald. Photo by Amanda Swain.

On Monday, Youth Villages broke ground for Bill’s Place, a $22 million investment to expand intensive residential treatment on the Bartlett campus.

The 100,000-square-foot addition will create a 148,000-square-foot center designed to enhance treatment options for the community’s most at-risk and vulnerable youth. This addresses a gap in service for medically fragile children and the growing community need for intensive treatment options.

Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler said, “With the addition of Bill’s Place, we are poised to make an even greater impact in the lives of the children. We are committed to helping these youth by addressing the perpetual waiting list and glaring gaps in service for children with complex mental or behavioral problems who are also medically fragile.”

The construction will make room for an additional 72 beds, bringing the building’s bed total to 144. This will allow about 435 youth to be helped annually at the facility. The Bill’s Place expansion doubles the center’s capacity to serve children and create an environment to accommodate children who have medical issues with co-occurring mental or behavioral health needs by providing an integrated and comprehensive approach to treating the whole child.

Bill’s Place is dedicated to William “Bill” and Marjorie Lawler, the parents of Pat Lawler. Bill was born during the Great Depression and lost his mother when he was just two years old. From ages six to 11, he lived in an orphanage – an unpleasant place he despised – but because of his difficult childhood, he grew up to cherish the importance of family and instilled those values in his three children. The way Bill lived his life became the driving force behind Pat’s commitment to ensuring that every child has a path to success and ultimately created the legacy that will now be Bill’s Place.

The facility will be a bright and welcoming space with natural lighting. Features will include a theater and musical performance room with space for the existing therapeutic drumming program, a dedicated art room, a gym, an outdoor pool, an exercise room and an outside playground. Bill’s Place will also add 16 new classrooms and a modern computer lab, eight family counseling rooms, an expanded health station with additional nursing staff, physical and occupational therapy rooms, two sensory therapy rooms with leading-edge tactile equipment, a neurofeedback therapy room and on-site pediatricians, dentists and optometrists.

“Every aspect of Bill’s place was designed with the children’s needs in mind – to ensure that we are providing them with the care they need in an environment that promotes progress, growth and success,” Lawler said.

A hallmark of Bill’s Place is the creation of a national laboratory for Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS), a revolutionary evidence-based treatment model for troubled youth. CPS is disseminated by Think:Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University Medical School’s teaching hospital. What is learned at the lab will be shared with key community partners locally, regionally and nationally. Youth Villages also will demonstrate, teach and circulate the CPS model to other providers and organizations.

Bill’s Place is made possible by a local capital campaign and is projected to add approximately 150 new jobs to the campus when it opens in the spring of 2019.

“We are proud that Bill’s Place will be one of only a few centers nationwide to offer these children and their families new possibilities to be successful,” Lawler said. “This facility complements the array of services we currently offer and reaffirms the commitment we made when Youth Villages was created to provide intensive services for youth with the greatest needs.”


Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138, bartlett.editor@journalinc.com or carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.

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