In 1963, Paul and Mildred Krentel’s sixth child, Melissa, was born with Down syndrome. Not satisfied with recommended institutional settings, the Krentels wanted their daughter to live in a home-like setting with peers for playmates. In 1966, they courageously sold their home and purchased a 35-room mansion in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, creating a loving home for Melissa and some friends. The new home was called Melmark.
Over the next 30 years, with philanthropic support from friends, families and associates, Melmark’s services and resources increased significantly. The program was noted for its dedicated staff, nursing and healthcare services and special education classes. Residents enjoyed a full range of cultural, recreational, and social activities. Melmark was licensed as an approved private school; a gymnasium and pool were added; and residential homes and cottages were constructed on campus.
In the early 1990’s, the Krentels retired and leadership transitioned to others. In 1996, Joanne Gillis-Donovan, Ph.D., joined Melmark’s team, and in 1997, was appointed President and CEO, a position she still holds today. Under Dr. Donovan’s leadership, Melmark expanded its range of programs to serve a more diverse clinical population; opened a series of group homes in the community; and celebrated the opening of Melmark New England, a community-based, approved private school in Andover, Massachusetts.
Today, with a combined staff of 905 people, Melmark serves 1,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, autism, brain injuries and genetic diagnoses in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
Recognized as one of the leading providers in the country, Melmark continues to encourage individuals to achieve their maximum potential by offering progressive, dynamic clinical programs in an environment of warmth, care and respect. Guided by its original legacy, Melmark remains “The House that Love Built”.