DeBartolo Corp. donates space for mental health agencies

DeBartolo Corp. donates office space



Social service providers throughout Mahoning County can now work together under one roof, thanks to a large donation of office space from the DeBartolo Corporation.

Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the county Mental Health and Recovery Board, coordinated the donation of 7,200 square feet of office space, or about a quarter of the corporation’s 7260 Market St. headquarters, with co-owner Denise (DeBartolo) York.

He said several of the board’s partnering provider agencies such as Alta Behavioral Healthcare, Meridian HealthCare, Potential Development School for Autism, the HELMS Foundation and others would each lease their new offices from DeBartolo for free and would only pay for their phone and Internet services.

Portions of those agencies could move in later this summer. Piccirilli said he hopes their proximity would naturally lead to better collaboration.

“If we could put a lot of the agencies that work with kids just in that facility … we’re hoping from this could develop some outstanding future programming,” Piccirilli said. “This is prime space. [DeBartolo] could surely rent this if they chose to but the fact that we’re putting these children’s programs together, kind of like a think tank — we think only good things are going to come out of it.”

The space was formerly rented by an accounting firm but it has been vacant for some time, said Shannon Rovnak, administrative assistant for the corporation.

“It really helps children and families that are in need and that’s really what [Denise] wanted to do. She’s just being a good neighbor,” she said.

Heads of those providers said the new office space would relieve cramped conditions at their current buildings.

Joe Shorokey, Alta’s CEO, said as the agency has tripled in size over the last four years, it’s completely outgrown its Belmont Avenue offices, he said. Alta would move 11 people from its main location. The freed space at its primary location could be used to provide more direct services for clients, he said.

“When this opportunity came up, we thought it was too good to be true,” Shorokey said. “By being co-located with all of those agencies, it brings more opportunities for organic growth and organic partnerships between the agencies.”

Terri DeGennaro, head of the HELMS Foundation, which provides art programs as a therapy outlet for people suffering from mental-health issues and developmental and physical disabilities, said she mostly works out of her basement and car.

As the foundation heads into its second year, intending to install more art therapy programs at the mental health board’s partnering agencies, as well as the county Juvenile Justice Center and Mahoning County High School, it needs dedicated office or meeting space and a storage room for art supplies.

“[Art therapy] has taken the place of medications. It’s taken the place of some [other] therapies,” DiGennaro said. “It is a very big thing for the community. Hopefully it will bring art back to the community.”

Paul Garchar, Potential Development executive director, said enrollment at its Market Street and Indianola Avenue special-needs schools grew 44 percent this school year. It now serves about 220 students, he said. The donated space could be used for financial or marketing offices, he said.

“Because we keep our classrooms so small, we’re able to have some additional classroom space and also some therapy areas,” he said. “We’re expecting enrollment will continue to increase so it will free up some needed space for us.”

Larry Moliterno, CEO of Meridian HealthCare, which maintains prevention education programs in 20 schools throughout the county, said his agency would also move planning or administrative staff to the donated space.

“We’re really very appreciative we’re being considered to be part of this project,” he said. “It shows the commitment people have to this community. The DeBartolo family has contributed so much to our community in the past and continues to.”

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