Cayuga Centers expands space for respite program

Feb 02, 2018


Auburn, NY – Space.  It was in short supply for participants in Cayuga Centers respite programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Offering both after-school and weekday evening programs, the agency’s program space in the Frederick N. Richardson Center on Osborne Street was cramped. Those who needed a little downtime after a busy day at school had no place to retreat from noise and activity.  And those who preferred areas for active play or loud pursuits like playing music or watching a movie were limited by the open floor plan which tried to accommodate everyone’s needs at the same time.

All that changed when Lexie Shutter, Director of SPWDD Support Programs (Services for People with Developmental Disabilities) opened the doors January 22, 2018, to a renovated and more spacious program area. The project is the culmination of months of planning and remodeling. Funding by the Auburn Kiwanis Club and the Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation made the project possible. Labor for making the planned modifications and installation of furnishings/equipment was provided by Cayuga Centers Maintenance Staff. Renovations included engineered plans, inspections, demolishing, modifying and replacing walls, doors, flooring, and hallways. New and updated adaptive equipment and furnishings have also been purchased for the expanded program.

Respite participants discovered increased storage space as they arrived, stashing their belongings in individual cubbies. They explored the music room equipped with a piano, adaptive drum set, and a karaoke machine, and tried out the new Wii gaming system in an adjacent area. Clients exercised large muscles in the interactive space, using scooters and newly installed monkey bars, with the opportunity to play games in the adjacent gymnasium. Shutter plans to add a ball pit to the options for active movement and play, along with a cargo net and rock wall for climbing. The agency’s recently installed outdoor playground with universally accessible equipment is a few steps away, waiting for spring weather.

And the person who needed space for quiet time took advantage of the night and light multi-sensory space equipped with glow in the dark stars, bean bag chairs, sensory objects, and LED lighting. Fiber optics, star projectors, and colored lights shift on walls and ceiling, providing an oasis of calm. The craft corner inspires creativity with bins of materials and project tables. Individuals are invited to explore the sensory activity walls with tactile experiences designed to soothe. Electronic interactive activities promote investigation of cause and effect. The new kitchen is arranged so clients can actively participate in meal or snack preparation – previously impossible due to the room layout.

Clients who wanted to work on homework took advantage of the computer lab and study space with support from staff members. Comfortable furniture invites just hanging out or watching a movie.

Staff members welcome the renovation too - the former kitchen space will become an office allowing increased workspace for staff. An enlarged personal care area will facilitate staff assistance for individuals needing help with hygiene.

Cayuga Centers President & CEO Edward Myers Hayes said of the renovated space, “this upgrade allows us to enhance a program that supports families who have a loved one with a developmental disability. And it’s thanks to the generosity of the Auburn Kiwanis Club, longtime community partners, and with new support from the Boeheim Foundation, that we were able to carry out our expansion plans, both serving more individuals and offering a broader array of activities.”

Hayes praised the collaboration between agency Maintenance and SPwDD department staff to envision expanded use of space, and design and implement the needed construction and program changes.

Cayuga Centers’ respite programs address the need for regular relief from caregiving, which has a physical, an emotional and a financial impact on caregivers. Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well-being, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect. The programs contribute to the growth and positive well-being of the individual. Over 30 individuals take advantage of respite, attending on a schedule that meets their needs for enjoyable activities as it gives caregivers a break. The expansion will allow 10 more individuals each day to attend the programs and enjoy socialization with peers and skill development activities in the newly remodeled space.

 For more information about program openings, please call Lexie Shutter at 315-253-5383, extension 1263.


Cayuga Centers, headquartered in Auburn, NY, serves children and families throughout New York State, Palm Beach County, Florida, and Delaware, offering a variety of evidence-based programs, residential and foster care treatment, and services for persons with developmental disabilities. Cayuga Centers, with over 600 employees, has a $67 million budget.



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