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History of the Opportunity Center



1955 The Seneca County Community Council initiated a committee to develop a program for citizens with disabilities. It was their goal to start a class for children ages 9 to 13. With the guidance of the group, the Council for Retarded Children originated.


1956 The newly formed Council for Retarded Citizens, along with other civic minded people and organizations, started the first class with 5 children in the annex of the First Presbyterian Church on South Monroe St in Tiffin.


1961 After enrollment growth to 37, the program relocated to St. John’s Church of Christ, then to 24 Riverside Dr in Tiffin.  At that time, the first tax levy for operational funding was placed on the ballot.


1962 The program rented 4 classrooms in a new facility built by the Betty Jane Center at 30 Orchard Pk, now the Allen Eiry Senior Center.  From that time on, the program became known as The School of Opportunity.


1967 The Seneca County Board of Mental Retardation was established.


1968 When the state regulations dictated that students who reached age 22 could no longer attend the school, the Board and the Parent Council opened the Adult Activity Center in Padua Hall on the grounds of St. Francis in Tiffin for eight individuals, all graduates of the School of Opportunity.


1975  The School of Opportunity, Seneca Re-Ad Industries and administrative offices moved into the newly built facility at 780 E. Co. Rd. 20, Tiffin.  The program was named “The Opportunity Center” (SCOC).


1984 Roppe Holding Corporation of Fostoria and Seneca Re-Ad started a partnership and established a workshop at 1616 N. Countyline Rd, Fostoria.  8 individuals produced samples for Roppe.


1986 State regulations required each county in Ohio to have local case management services.


1989 The Seneca Re-Ad Fostoria Division moved from Countyline Rd into a factory purchased by Roppe at 23 Corporate Place in Fostoria.  25 individuals occupied 11,000 square feet. 


1989 The Infant Stimulation class moved from the Opportunity Center to the Seneca County Health department and opened as the Early Intervention program.


1992 The Early Intervention program established a site in Fostoria at Bryant School.  Over the years, the site was moved to Field School, then to the Fostoria Church of the Nazarene and then to Fostoria Total Rehab on Plaza Dr.


1995  First Seneca County Self-Advocacy Conference:  Individuals For Unity; held in Findlay, Ohio.


1997 The Family Learning Center at Sentinel opened in August.  It was the collaborative vision of the Seneca County Opportunity Center, the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, Sentinel Career Center and WSOS Head Start. The Early Intervention program occupies 3 offices and 3 classroom areas.


1998 The SCOC adopted Person Centered Principles.


1999 The Community Support Services department was created which included the “one individual plan;” case managers wrote the plans for each adult individual served.  Plans included services from all areas of a person’s life.


2003  Creative Arts and Crafts studio began in adult services; designed to promote individual abilities by creatively utilizing all of the senses.


2005 Community Support Services was divided into Service & Support Administration Department (SSA) and the Consumer Advocacy & Support Department (CAS). SSA continues to develop Individual Plans and coordinate residential services.  CAS focuses on advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities and their families.


2006 The Early Childhood Center of Fostoria opened in September.  The facility houses SCOC Early Intervention offices and playrooms, a pediatrician, a Health Department clinic and the WSOS Early Childhood programs.  


2007  Creation of first phase of Opportunity Park; “community build” resulted in a new playground.  Funding received from Tiffin Charitable Trust and donations.


2007  Local Kiwanis group sponsored the creation of the Seneca County Opportunity Center Aktion Club; individuals with disabilities were initiated into this leadership club.  


2008  Through a Kellogg Grant accessible paved paths were added at Opportunity Park; later phases included landscaping and a pergola.  A recycling grant was received from the Sandusky, Seneca, Ottawa Solid Waste District for the purchase picnic tables and benches.


2009 Opportunity Park was dedicated in May and is part of the Seneca County Park District.


2009  Self-advocates and individuals with developmental disabilities approached their state legislators and requested a revision to State law that would remove the term “mental retardation” from the official name of the state cabinet agency and each of Ohio’s eighty-eight county boards. Senate Bill 79 was signed into law by Governor Ted Strickland on October 5, 2009.


2011  The Service & Support Administration (SSA) Department was moved to Fostoria located in the Early Childhood Center of Fostoria at 801 Kirk St.


2011  In December, new conference room space was dedicated in honor of Eugene Phillips for the many ways he has donated both time and talents in service to persons with disabilities in Seneca County.


2012  The Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities recognized leaders in self-advocacy “Seneca STIR” by establishing a means by which they may be paid for teaching self-advocacy to others and promoting the Opportunity Center in the community.


2014  Seneca ReAds created a new opportunity for people to work in the community by opening the Corner Delights (formerly known as The Bistro), which is located at Tiffin Mercy hospital and specializes in Starbucks beverages.      


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