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Medford comes to the aid of adults with disabilities

John Mahoney, board president, white shirt, Ray Hardy, black shirt, an adult with disabilities, Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke, Carolyne Guffey, CEO of Walnut Street Center, and John Wheeler, president of care board, at the ribbon cutting at Walnut Street Center to announce the opening of their new space. (Owen O'Rourke)

MEDFORD — A hub for adults with disabilities has reopened in Medford after the MBTA seized its former building for the green line extension project.

The Walnut Street Center, which was located in Union Square in Somerville, reopened with more services and offerings.

Carolyne Guffey, the center’s CEO, said the agency “faced a hardship with being pushed out of (the old) building and created an opportunity.”

Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke said she’s looking forward to the center’s future partnerships with Medford’s public schools.

“We’re happy you chose Medford,” she said. “We welcomed you with open arms.”

New services at the center include acquired brain injury and autism spectrum programs and integrated adult day health. Expanded day habilitation offerings will focus on supporting intense behavioral interventions for patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The new facility was designed using recommendations from an advisory committee of adults enrolled in the program. The space includes specialty rooms which will allow the agency to provide additional, specialized services.

The 43,000-square-foot building has a horticulture room, art room, gymnasium, computer lab, and training kitchen. Weekly programs, including art and music therapy, have been added to the long list of offerings.

On-site parking and a more secure pick-up and drop-off area with an overhang to shield clients from bad weather helps make the new building more aligned with the needs of those being served.

“All of these things were brilliant ideas,” said director of day services Jay Hayston. “They’re not mine. They’re not Carolyne’s. They come from this advisory committee. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

About 15 new clients have joined the agency since the soft opening in June, and more are expected to begin taking advantage of programs within the next few months. Many are individuals who have aged out of public school programs that only provide services until age 22, he said.

At its new location, the agency is eligible to serve a wider geographic area including Medford, Everett, Malden, Waltham, Belmont, Watertown, Lynnfield, Melrose, Reading, North Reading, Saugus, Stoneham, and Wakefield, in addition to continuing to serve Somerville, Cambridge and Arlington.

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