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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Mario Lemieux welcomed two new homes to Pittsburgh this week.

On Tuesday, he helped announce a deal for a multi-purpose arena that will keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh for at least the next 30 years.

Thanks to a "speedy delivery" of ceremonial golden scissors by David Newell (Mr. McFeely of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fame), Lemieux cut the ribbon Thursday on a facility for The Children's Home of Pittsburgh and Lemieux Family Center on Penn Ave. in Pittsburgh's Friendship community. The move continues the organization's 114-year history of serving the children and families of southwestern Pennsylvania.

"We have been working toward and anticipating this date for some time," said Pamela Schanwald, Chief Executive Officer of The Children's Home of Pittsburgh. "In this building we can offer our unique services to more children and families in Pittsburgh and have a significant impact on our region's economic development."

In recognition of a substantial grant from The Mario Lemieux Foundation, The Children's Home added Lemieux Family Center to its name. This addition signifies the importance of family at the center of the organization's mission and is physically represented by the many family spaces throughout the building, including an enlarged family living area and Austin's Playroom for siblings.

"Our son Austin was born prematurely," said Lemieux. "Nathalie and I, along with other members of the Foundation, certainly understand and believe in the importance of a place like The Children's Home."

The Mario Lemieux Foundation was created in 1993 by hockey legend Mario Lemieux to support cancer research and other important medical initiatives. The Lemieux Foundation has also established the Playroom Project initiative, in honor of Mario and Nathalie Lemieux's healthy son, Austin. The Playroom Project seeks to benefit families and improve the quality of a child's hospital experience.

The Children's Home and Lemieux Family Center include living spaces that allow for special family time. These areas were created to provide a sense of home and comfort for the children and families who are receiving care at The Children's Home.

"Caring for vulnerable and medically fragile infants and children - and their families - is the core mission of The Children's Home of Pittsburgh. We are so grateful for the support we've received from our elected officials, from The Mario Lemieux Foundation, and from the community," Schanwald said. "Every gift has made a significant impact on our ability to build for the future of the families we serve."

The Children's Home of Pittsburgh and Lemieux Family Center is an independent, non-profit licensed organization whose purpose is to promote the health and well-being of infants and children through services which establish and strengthen the family. The new facility will allow for the expansion of The Children's Home's three programs: Adoption, Child's Way and their Pediatric Specialty Hospital, enable the organization to consolidate all of its services to one location, and provide the flexibility and efficiencies that will allow the organization to be sustainable well into the future.

"It's a great day. I just want to thank all those involved in this process. This is a great day for The Children's Home as well as the Penn Ave. corridor as we continue to develop and invest in this wonderful city neighborhood," Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. "I would like to thank Mario and Nathalie and The Lemieux Foundation for all they have done, not just for this facility, but for the city of Pittsburgh.

"Today is all about the children and this facility. It's such a great pleasure to have the expansion and to see this happen in the city of Pittsburgh and to provide the opportunity for those children who are less fortunate than us. It's an honor for me to be here."

"This was a heck of a week for Pittsburgh and the region. As the Mayor said, it's been a long journey. While we had a big announcement a couple days about keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh and building a new multi-purpose facility, it's really these types of projects and this facility for children that really make Pittsburgh a special place," Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said. "If you look at the facilities we have for our young people and facilities like this, we take it for granted because other cities don't have these kinds of facilities. While this may not get the type of coverage as the other deal, this project is just as important."

Designed by Pittsburgh architectural firm Perkins Eastman with construction management by P.J. Dick Incorporated, the new building spans 63,000 square feet, at an estimated cost of $20 million. Several new additions to The Children's Home and Lemieux Family Center include:

An expanded, 28-bed Pediatric Specialty Hospital that houses the Transitional Infant Care and Transitional Pediatric Care units, which provide continued acute care for infants and children transitioning from hospital to home.

The new T.P.C. unit will offer the first dedicated pediatric in-patient hospice beds in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Child's Way, a state licensed pediatric extended care center, will increase enrollment to accommodate 60 medically fragile children per day in a medical day care setting.

The organization's flagship infant Adoption program will benefit from improved meeting space and conference rooms for their support groups, training sessions and one-on-one counseling.

The Children's Home of Pittsburgh, established in 1893, is an independent, non-profit licensed organization that promotes the health and well-being of infants and children through services which establish and strengthen the family. These programs include:

Adoption - serving infants, birthparents and persons seeking to adopt, Child's Way - a pediatric extended care center serving medically fragile infants and children, and a 28-bed Pediatric Specialty Hospital - infant and pediatric units that provide short-term transitional care from hospital to home for those who are technology dependent and who may suffer from life threatening illnesses. For more information, please call 412-441-4884 or visit




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