Manahan, originally founded as Josina Lott Foundation, opened its doors in September 1979. Programs at the time were not dissimilar to what they are today. Our team worked with individuals to learn everyday skills like personal hygiene, cooking, reading, writing, money management and eating/table manners as well as social and recreational skills.
It started as the dream of a small group of parents, led by Fred Fleischer and his wife Judith over 30 years ago. From that spark of a desire for safe housing for their children, we have grown to where we are today: a beautiful park-like campus with two residences, an Activity & Education building and an administrative building. As people have been a part of Manahan - whether they were people receiving services, employees, board members, or interested members of the community - they have touched the lives of the individuals and many have left their mark on the campus itself. One example is the gorgeous gazebo which was a gift from the estate of a former board member and a friend of Josina Lott herself. Other examples include the sensory gardens behind one of the residences, and portions of the landscaped driveway island, which were both Eagle Scout projects.
Judith and Fred Fleischer are fondly remembered as the "brick-and-mortar" that, along with other interested members of the community, established this organization.
"Fred and I believed that more needed to be done for adults with developmental disabilities when these individuals no longer 'fit' into the standard education system. So we developed a dream of building a residential home for adults," said Mrs. Fleischer. She added, "We wanted our children and others to be educated (like all parents wish for their children), and did not want them to go into an institutional environment." Because there were few choices in this area, Mrs. Fleischer said, "for a time we sent our son Dick away to school in Windsor, Canada, until we met Josina Lott who opened LARC Lane School in Toledo in 1962."
"Mrs. Lott was the person responsible for getting us started.” recalled Mrs. Fleischer. "She gave us the initial push by telling us, if you don't do it, no one will. Fred and I admired her and her work. Many still benefit from Mrs. Lott's wisdom and the standards and programs she helped develop." Fred Fleischer founded Colonial Builders with his brother, and was well known for his involvement in numerous fundraising efforts benefiting people with developmental disabilities. Sadly, the Fleischers are no longer with us, but their memory and commitment live on at our facility. Our entrance drive is now named “Fleischer Boulevard” in their honor.
Josina Lott, a graduate of Ypsilanti State Normal University, originally intended to become a scientist or chemist. But after realizing that handicapped children were unable to attend public schools, she began to educate children, regardless of their mental or physical disabilities.
Lott was a pioneer in the developmental disabilities field. Mrs. Lott started Lott Day School as an experiment. Working out of her Old West End apartment, she taught one student with cerebral palsy in a basic curriculum. By the end of that year the class had expanded to four pupils, and in 1940 she moved her school to the Rosewood Presbyterian Church. Tuition was five dollars per week and the curriculum conformed to the academic standards set by the board of education.
She struggled through the years for support from parents and the community. As the school began to grow, Mrs. Lott turned her attention to teaching churches, local clubs, and civic organizations about the importance of educating handicapped children. Her efforts paid off. In 1945, with the help of parents and people interested in assisting the Lott Day School, classrooms were expanded and sheltered workshops for older students were developed. In 1959, the Lott School became part of the county school system and was renamed the Heffner School. Mrs. Lott remained the principal and continued her work as an educator and advocate until her retirement in 1968.
Mrs. Lott received many awards honoring her work prior to her death in 1973. In 2000, she was inducted into the Toledo Civic Hall of Fame.
Today Manahan is modifying our services as our residents grow older; keeping our focus fresh. We strive to remain a beacon of hope and support for those who need us. The employees are dedicated, hardworking and diverse. They work together as a team, build lasting relationships and consistently deliver quality services to the individuals and consumers we serve. Employees enjoy working here and choose to stay here because they feel they are an important part.