Hattie Larlham

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Hattie Larlham is a non-profit organization that provides services to more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities.[1] In 2011, the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary.[2] Named after its founder, Hattie Larlham, the organization is headquartered in Twinsburg, Ohio, in Summit County.[3] Dennis Allen has been the organization’s CEO since 1988.[4]


Mrs. Hattie Lena Gadd Larlham created Hattie Larlham in 1961, and legally established the Hattie Larlham Foundation in 1963. Initially, the organization opened a facility with enough space to house 50 people with disabilities. The organization has steadily grown since then. By 1988, Hattie Larlham had expanded its operations to provide services for 180 families. Today, Hattie Larlham cares for 1,500 children and adults.

Hattie Lena Gadd Larlham was inspired to form the Hattie Larlham Foundation when, as a nurse, she experienced first-hand the lack of specialized care available for children with developmental disabilities. She took a neighbor’s child who was born with inoperable hydrocephalus into her home to provide care for the child. Not long after, she was caring for ten children in her family’s small farmhouse. Once the waiting list grew to 100 children, she decided to form the Hattie Larlham Foundation.

Larlham drew national attention for her efforts and eventually served as a disabilities issue advisor to U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.[5]

Larlham’s accomplishments also earned her a place in the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.[6] She died in 1996 and is buried at the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities.[7]


Hattie Larlham strives to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families through a commitment to comfort, joy and achievement.[8]


Core services[edit]

Hattie Larlham is a nonprofit organization that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. The organization is headquartered in Twinsburg, Ohio. Services encompass medical, vocational, recreational and residential, including foster care and respite/home care services. Hattie Larlham provides residential care to both children and adults with developmental disabilities.[1]

Hattie Larlham administers residential care for children with disabilities at the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities in Mantua, Ohio. Adult residential care is dispersed across several community homes located throughout Northeast Ohio.[9]

Hattie Larlham offers employment opportunities to people with developmental disabilities through its social enterprises, including Hattie’s Café & Gifts, Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding, Hattie’s Gardens, Hattie’s Assembly and Hattie’s Vending. Employees earn minimum wage.[10]


Creative Arts

Hattie Larlham Creative Arts gives participants with developmental disabilities the opportunity to communicate through artistic expression.[11] Participants work with trackers (professional artists). The trackers become an extension of the artist by asking a series of yes-or-no questions that allow the tracker to carry out the specific intent of each artist. Through the process, participants improve their ability to communicate.[12]

The artists receive all proceeds from the sales of their artwork. Pieces of art from the program have sold for as much as $2,000.

The artwork is also displayed at various events, galleries and exhibitions each year. Works from Creative Arts have appeared at the Eells Gallery at Blossom Music Center, the Taste of Hudson and the Eden Art Fest in Naples, Florida, among other locations.

In 2013, artwork from Hattie Larlham Creative Arts was juried into the Orange Park Art Festival in Jacksonville, Florida, and into the Gulf Coast Fine Art Festival in Fort Myers, Florida, solely on its merits with no special consideration given to the fact that the artists had developmental disabilities.[13]

On March 15, 2013, the Naples Art Association allocated space in its main gallery to host a special reception for Hattie Larlham Creative Arts in Naples, Florida.[14]

Later in 2013, artwork from Hattie Larlham Creative Arts was featured at the University Hospitals Humphrey Atrium Gallery. The exhibition was the fourth Hattie Larlham Creative Arts show sponsored by University Hospitals.[15]

Hattie’s Café & Gifts

Hattie’s Café & Gifts is a chain of coffee shops in Northeast Ohio that employs people with developmental disabilities.[16]

The first café opened in Hudson, Ohio in 2006. The franchise has since expanded to seven locations, two of which occupy space inside Canal Place in Akron, Ohio. Other locations include the Summit County Courthouse, the Stubbs Justice Center and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.[17]

Hattie Larlham also operates the Bakery at Hattie’s Café & Gifts, which is located in the Malone Building in Akron, Ohio. All bakery items sold at Hattie’s Café & Gifts locations across the region are produced at the bakery. Staff members at the Bakery at Hattie’s Café & Gifts also fulfill gift basket orders placed through Hattie Larlham’s online store.[18]

Hattie’s Café & Gifts finished in the top five of voting for the best coffee shop in the Akron-Canton area on the Fox 8 Hotlist in 2009.[19] In 2011, Hattie’s Café & Gifts was named as the Hudson Business of the Year.[20]

Hattie's Vending

Hattie Larlham launched a vending services company in on Feb. 11, 2010 that employs people with developmental disabilities. Their job responsibilities include filling the vending machines and ensuring that the machines are functional.

The vending machines used by Hattie’s Vending are leased in collaboration with AVI Foodsystems, Inc. Hattie’s Vending currently services nearly 100 machines in Akron, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio and surrounding areas.[21]

Hattie's Doggie Day Care & Boarding

Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding is a pet boarding facility with locations in North Canton, Ohio, and Twinsburg, Ohio.[22]

The program began with a location in Green, Ohio and expanded to a second site in Twinsburg, Ohio in August 2010.[23]

In May 2011, the Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding in Green moved to a larger facility near the Akron-Canton Airport in North Canton.[24]

The two locations currently employ a total of 40 people with developmental disabilities. A third Hattie's Doggie Day Care & Boarding is slated to open near Cleveland, Ohio in close proximity to Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 2012.[25]

These facilities offer day care and long-term boarding for dogs, as well as grooming services. Employees with disabilities care for the animals as they work alongside professional job coaches. Some employees use the experience from their work at Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding to obtain jobs in the general workforce in the animal care industry.[26]

Fox 8 viewers have voted Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding to a top-three spot in the Fox 8 Akron-Canton Hotlist for Best Boarding for three straight years, including a first-place finish in 2010.[27][28]

Hattie's Garden

Hattie’s Garden is a vocational training program Hattie Larlham established in 2011 in collaboration with Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, Ohio, and the Summit County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The program focuses on sustainable agriculture to produce chemical-free produce. This produce is turned into food at Hattie’s Cafés & Gifts.

Participants with disabilities learn gardening skills, such as safely using gardening tools, watering plants and cultivating seedlings. They practice crop rotation, composting and spreading mulches. They also manage a flock of 20 free-range, laying hens.[29]

Habilitation programs[edit]

Constant Companions

Constant Companions is a Hattie Larlham program that improves the lives of people with disabilities through contact with animals. People with disabilities learn life skills while developing a bond with and learning about the animals they care for.[30]

Constant Companions maintains locations in Green, Ohio, Twinsburg, Ohio, Evendale, Ohio, and Middleburg Heights, Ohio. The Middleburg Heights location is the newest addition to the program. It opened on December 5, 2011.[31]

In 2009, both Hattie Larlham Doggie Day Care & Boarding and Constant Companions were recognized with the Green Chamber of Commerce Vision Award for the programs’ accomplishments in the community.[32]

Community programs[edit]


In 2010, volunteers contributed more than 13,010 hours toward the mission of Hattie Larlham.[33]

Volunteers regularly assist the organization with special events, fundraisers, landscaping, home improvement projects, recreational activities, day camps, administrative tasks and friendship volunteer opportunities.

The Center for Community Solutions selected Hattie Larlham volunteer, Patricia Cole, as one of Greater Cleveland’s “Most Treasured Volunteers.” Cole, who has Asperger's syndrome, volunteers more than 100 hours per year at Hattie Larlham, assisting others with disabilities.[34]

Many of Hattie Larlham’s student volunteers come from Kent State University. In recent years, Kent students have volunteered more than 1,000 hours at Hattie Larlham. In 2009, Kent State University honored Hattie Larlham as an “Outstanding Community Partner” for providing Kent State students with volunteer opportunities.

Hattie's Preschool

Hattie’s Preschool is a year-round child care service for children ages 3 to 5 years old that is licensed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and follows the HighScope Preschool Curriculum.[35]

Children have supervised access to an outdoor playground, an indoor swimming pool and 7,000-square-foot play area. They also use educational technology, such as iPads.

Summer camps

Hattie Larlham provides camps tailored to suit the specialized needs of children with a variety of disabilities. Each camp serves a specific purpose.[36]

"Connect with Hattie’s Friends" blends children with and without disabilities in a unified setting. This interaction dispels myths about children with disabilities. It enables the children with disabilities to form bonds with non-disabled children and helps the children without disabilities to learn that a child with disabilities is no different from any of their other friends. It is one of the largest recreation programs offered at Hattie Larlham.[37]

"Connect with Movement and Play" helps children with autism, sensory processing issues and movement disabilities to develop large-muscle and fine-motor skills, as well as explore sensory input.[38]

"Connect with Art" teaches children on the autism spectrum, as well as children with sensory processing issues to express themselves through art.[39]

"Connecting with Community" allows children with disabilities to learn about the careers of professionals in the community by having these professionals speak directly to children about their careers.[40]

"Connect with Teens" is a camp designed for teenagers with disabilities to help them build friendships and learn the importance of teamwork. The camp includes teens with and without disabilities to promote the understanding and acceptance of the unique capabilities of all people.[41]


Hattie Larlham regularly takes part in research projects that aim to improve the care of people with developmental disabilities. Hattie Larlham participates in areas of research including clinical care, applied therapy and assistive technology.[42]

Some of Hattie Larlham’s research partners have included Akron Children’s Hospital,[43][44] Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, The University of Akron, The University of North Carolina and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

One of the studies Hattie Larlham participated in focused on cerebral palsy. Richard Grossberg, MD, FAAP, Hattie Larlham medical director, conducted the study with other researchers across the United States to examine the growth and nutrition of children with cerebral palsy. The results indicated that children living in facilities have better growth and nutrition than children living at home with cerebral palsy. The Journal of Pediatrics published the study.[45]

Grossberg also co-authored an article examining secondary transmission of varicella vaccine virus in a chronic care facility for children that the Journal of Pediatrics published.[46]


In 2011, Allen was selected as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Northeast Ohio Finalist.[47] Later in the year, he received the prestigious FirstMerit Legacy Award on behalf of Hattie Larlham. In recognition of this accomplishment, the October Akron/Canton edition of Smart Business magazine featured Allen on the cover.[48] In 2012, he was a Pillar Award for Community Service finalist in the category of nonprofit executive director of the year, for which he again featured on the cover of Akron/Canton Smart Business magazine, as well as on the cover of the Cleveland edition.[49]


  1. ^ a b Hattie Larlham "Official Hattie Larlham Website"
  2. ^ Smith, Diane (August 14, 2011). "Hattie Larlham's haven of hope turns 50". Record Courier. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Contact Us"
  4. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – CEO Dennis Allen"
  5. ^ Corrigan, Jo Ellen (March 30, 2011). "Hattie Larlham pioneered care for special-needs kids: Women's History Month". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ Ohio Women's Hall of Fame
  7. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham - History"
  8. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Mission"
  9. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham - Medical Services"
  10. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham - Brands"
  11. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Creative Arts"
  12. ^ Bernstein, Margaret (June 19, 2011). "Through art, disabled residents at Hattie Larlham Center making huge strides". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Artists with Disabilities to Exhibit Work at Popular Jacksonville Art Festival" (Press release). Twinsburg, Ohio: Hattie Larlham. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  14. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Hattie Larlham Creative Arts to Exhibit Work in Florida "
  15. ^ Hattie Larlham “Hattie Larlham – Creative Arts exhibit returns to University Hospitals”
  16. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Hattie’s Café & Gifts"
  17. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Hattie’s Café & Gifts Locations"
  18. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – The Bakery at Hattie’s Café & Gifts"
  19. ^ FOX 8 Hotlist."Best Coffee Shop"
  20. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Hattie’s Café & Gifts Named Hudson Business of the Year"
  21. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham - Hattie’s Vending Company"
  22. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding"
  23. ^ Wendel, Kim (August 21, 2010). "Twinsburg: Second Hattie Larlham 'Doggie Day Care & Boarding' opens". WKYC. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Hattie Larlham Doggie Day Care to open in Green". Canton Repository. May 9, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  25. ^ Bates, Jessica (December 6, 2011). "Doggy Daycare More Than Just Place to Drop Off Pet". Fox 8. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  26. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie’s Doggie Day Care & Boarding – About Doggie Day Care"
  27. ^ FOX 8 Hotlist."Best Boarding"
  28. ^ FOX 8 Hotlist "Best Boarding"
  29. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham - Hattie’s Garden"
  30. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Constant Companions"
  31. ^ Ketchum, Susan (December 2, 2011). "Program pairs rescued pets with developmentally disabled in Middleburg Heights". Sun News. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  32. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Awards"
  33. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – 2010 Annual Report"
  34. ^ Community Solutions Most Treasured Volunteers."2008 Most Treasured Volunteers"
  35. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Hattie’s Preschool"
  36. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Summer Camps"
  37. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Connect with Hattie’s Friends"
  38. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Connect with Movement and Play"
  39. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Connect with Art"
  40. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Connecting with Community"
  41. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Connect with Teens"
  42. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Hattie Larlham Research Projects"
  43. ^ Clinicaltrials.gov
  44. ^ Clinicaltrials.gov
  45. ^ The Journal of Pediatrics; volume 151, issue 2; Henderson, R.1, Grossberg, R.2, Matuszewski, J.3, Menon, N.4, Johnson, J.5, Kecskemethy, H.6, Vogel, L.7, Ravas, R.8, Wyatt, M.9, Bachrach, S.10 and Stevenson, R.11; Growth and Nutritional Status in Residential Center Versus Home-Living Children and Adolescents with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy; Copyright August, 2007, with permission from Elsevier Limited.[1]
  46. ^ The Journal of Pediatrics; volume 148, issue 6; Richard Grossberg, Rafael Harpaz, Elena Rubtcova, Vladimir Loparev, Jane F. Seward, D. Scott Schmid; Secondary transmission of varicella vaccine virus in a chronic care facility for children; Copyright June, 2006.
  47. ^ Hattie Larlham "Hattie Larlham – Awards"
  48. ^ "FirstMerit Legacy Award: Meaningful change". Smart Business. October 7, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  49. ^ "2012 Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Director Finalist: Dennis Allen, CEO, Hattie Larlham". Smart Business. November 30, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 

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