Concerned about the growing number of abandoned and orphaned children in Norfolk during World War II, the Rev. Paul V. Heller had an idea: Create a home for them.

A century-old downtown building that once had been a school was renovated and opened its doors as St. Mary’s Infant Home with a public ceremony on Dec. 8, 1944. The first dozen children arrived at the Home two weeks later.

St. Mary’s evolved over the years and today, St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children cares for Virginia children and young adults, up to age 21, who have severe intellectual and physical disabilities.

We’re also building a wing with 12 private rooms so that in about a year, we can offer care to adults 22 and over. Supporters have contributed $2.6 million of the $3 million needed to build The Albero House for adults. The goal is to end the Embrace capital campaign by Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to be a part of this important mission, you can donate now on our website. Or, contact Allison Bough, campaign coordinator, at (757) 622-2208 or abough@smhdc.org.

For information about how St. Mary’s Home could help your family, contact Melanie Perez-Lopez, director of social work, at (757) 622-2208 ext. 321 or mperezlopez@smhdc.org.

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