BRSHF begins accepting private insurance, in addition to accepting Medicaid and offering sliding-scale fees.
Celebrating 60 Years of Innovation
presented by the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation
Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, now The Emerge Center, was founded in 1960 by the Junior League and Quota Club in response to children who had gone deaf from the Rubella outbreak. Originally housed in 2 classrooms with only 2 full time staff, we are thriving today serving more than 1,800 individuals a year in our 26,000 square foot facility at The Emerge Center, and six classes at The Emerge School. With a staff of more than 145 and a comprehensive and robust service delivery model, we serve young children with a variety of communication challenges, in particular, autism. Read more about our 60-year history.
Thank you to our 60th Anniversary Committee
Winnie Byrd, Honorary Chair
In Memoriam (1925-2020)
Leslie and Scott Berg
George Noell, PhD
Kelli Bondy Troutman
Roberta Carona Vicari, M.D.
Colleen and Stephen Waguespack
We are searching high and low to bring together former alumni – clients or staff! We’ve created this group as a place where BRSHF/Emerge alumni can reconnect with old friends, and to hear your stories about your time at BRSHF/Emerge. Join our Alumni Facebook Group!
After completing a community-needs assessment revealing the need for early childhood services for deaf and hard of hearing children younger than 6, the Junior League founded the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation with The Quota Club. Two full time staff and nearly 50 community volunteers and LSU students provided services within two classrooms at the Walnut Hills Elementary School.
BRSHF moves to a larger space in University Terrace Elementary.
Speech Pathologist Margaret Neely became Executive Director. A stutterer herself, she pioneered a “total language education,” insisting that deaf and hard of hearing children need speech language as well as sign language instruction.
Under the leadership of board member Kevin Reilly, Sr., BRSHF secures state, federal and private funding to build on land acquired for $5,000 adjacent to University Terrace Elementary.
Construction project costing $172,900 was completed. BRSHF moves to its new building on West Roosevelt Street on November 20, 1968.
Congress passes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandating that free, public special education be available in schools for children starting at age 3. BRSHF begins to add focus on children with language delays.
BRSHF becomes a Capital Area United Way agency, whose support provides more than 35% of the organization’s budget.
BRSHF employs a psychologist, social worker, physical therapist and occupational therapist. Outreach services are offered throughout the Baton Rouge community.
BRSHF establishes an innovative group language preschool program for children with speech delays and autism.
John Bowman becomes Executive Director.
John Bowman becomes Executive Director.
BRSHF begins offering Louisiana’s “Child Net” early intervention services, the precursor to the Early Steps program.
BRSHF provides increased activities for client families including Easter egg hunts, Mardi Gras parades, a Fall Festival, and Christmas pageants.
Sertoma Club, Delta Zeta and The Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation fund Mobile Testing Unit, enabling our audiologist to perform free hearing screenings in the community.
Pilot program for children with autism begins in partnership with Dr. George Noell, LSU Department of Psychology. Four children begin receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidenced-based one-on-one therapy.
Speech pathologist Melissa Juneau becomes Executive Director.
Louisiana passes a law requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for autism diagnosis and therapy services.
Strategic plan funded by The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation sets the organization on a course for growth. BRSHF begins providing diagnoses for autism.
With a skyrocketing demand for services, a $7 million capital campaign begins to build a larger center. Supporters include: The Albemarle Foundation, The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, The Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, The Reilly Family, Mrs. Sue Turner and Matt and Sherri McKay.
Study by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation identifies a need for educational options serving elementary-aged children with autism.
The Emerge Foundation launches, providing philanthropic support to The Emerge Center and The Emerge School. The Emerge School opens, serving 20 kindergarteners within two classrooms at the Center. Launch of a $2 million capital campaign to build the School on Emerge’s campus. Matt and Sherri McKay provide early support.
Deanna Whittle becomes CEO. The Emerge School breaks ground. Feeding therapy program at the Center officially launches.
Construction is completed on The Emerge School at Innovation Park Drive.
The Emerge Enterprise looks forward to the future with a continued spirit of innovation and collaboration to provide broad access to services for all.