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Hattie Larlham closes cafe, Akron Food Hub; CEO resigns

Twinsburg Township-based organization cites financial woes

By APRIL HELMS Reporter Published: June 20, 2017 12:00 AM
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TWINSBURG TOWNSHIP -- Financial difficulties have led Hattie Larlham to shutter its last cafe in Canal Place in Akron at the end of July, as well as its Food Hub in Akron at the end of August.

In addition, Hattie Larlham CEO Dr. Wendy Pardee has submitted her resignation after taking the position Nov. 1, 2016. Her final day is July 31.

Pardee could not be reached for comment by press time.

The organization, based at 7996 Darrow Road in Twinsburg Township next to the Humane Society of Summit County, underwent an in-house audit of its programs and operations in November 2016. It was after this assessment that the organization realized cuts were necessary, according to Hattie officials.

"We are anticipating several financial challenges in 2018 and beyond," Hattie Larlham states on its website. "Those challenges include ensuring our employees are competitively compensated, addressing rising health care costs, and planning for required capital renovations to the Center. We don't have the reserves to meet those challenges that are coming down the pike and after an exhaustive review of our options, we began exploring the feasibility of an acquisition."

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The 56-year-old organization, which provides job training, housing, nursing care and much more for those with disabilities, is also exploring whether another organization can acquire Hattie Larlham. Hattie officials declined to name possible suitors.

The organization is "currently in active talks with potential partners, each of whom has been carefully chosen because of their commitment to continuing our high quality programs and services," according to Hattie officials.

"We are in active talks with other providers of services in the region but due to confidentiality agreements, we can't share specific information on who they are," Hattie states on its website. "We have looked carefully at organizations who have the financial capacity to take us on and whose missions align with ours."

Specifically, Hattie officials are hoping that a partner can assume operation of the Food Hub in Akron.

According to its website, the non-profit will continue its Doggie Daycare and boarding (in Twinsburg Township), community employment program and its Constant Companions day program in Twinsburg, as well as its community homes and homecare programs, and its Center for Children with Disabilities. Hattie Larlham programs in central Ohio are expected to continue.

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Hattie boasts an annual budget of about $50 million and has 1,100 employees, according to Hattie Larlham officials. The group serves more than 1,800 children and adults throughout Ohio. Services are predominantly funded through the Department of Developmental Disabilities, Medicaid, and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.

It is unclear whether Pardee's resignation was related to the apparent financial difficulties.

Mike Weinhardt, Hattie Larlham Board president, said Pardee's "strong financial background has been critical to charting Hattie Larlham's path forward."

"Wendy has had a strong commitment to serving people with disabilities for her entire adult life," Weinhardt stated in a June 16 email. "When the decision was made to pursue acquisition opportunities with other organizations, she made the difficult personal decision to begin exploring other opportunities. In her time with Hattie Larlham, she has been a great asset and is working very hard to help us through the transition."

An interim CEO will be appointed by the Board while the organization looks at its future options.

 

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

Twitter: @twinsburgohio


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