MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A major retailer based in the Milwaukee area is making a commitment to help children with special needs. On Tuesday, January 29th, Kohl's announced a $4 million donation to Penfield Children's Center to be made over the next five years.
The Penfield Children's Center serves 1,500 children each year with developmental, behavioral and medical disabilities.
The additional funding will allow the center to add bilingual staff, develop a new community outreach program and create a digital education platform to reach out to more families.
“We will have a child development specialist that'll focus on outreach to the Latino community. We couldn't do this and it's really only because of Kohl's we're able to do that,” President & CEO Christine Holmes said.
Kohl's has been a leading financial partner for the center. It already funds the Kohl's Developmental Library, which loans out necessary equipment to families for at-home therapy.
Teresa Gutierrez “checked out” a blue weighted vest for her two-year-old daughter, Calista, who has a sensory processing disorder.
“It helps her feel regulated, helps calm her down,” Gutierrez said.
For the last 15 months, Gutierrez has taken her daughter the Penfield Children's Center for occupational and speech therapy. The items she brings home are essential for treatment.
“She's had a high chair. She's had a weighted blanket, and all of those items are definitely expensive and not something we'd be able to afford on our own,” Gutierrez said.
“There's pieces of equipment here that costs thousands of dollars that insurance doesn't pay for,” Holmes said.
Holmes said the new Kohl’s donation will help expand existing services to more families, like Gutierrez’s, who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten their children the therapy they need.
“Very, very thankful. I think a lot of people are going to benefit from it,” Gutierrez said.
Currently, the Penfield Children's Center serves children from birth to six years old. Officials hope through the Kohl's donation, they'll be able to expand those services to kids up to age eight.