St. Francis Children’s Center will celebrate 50 years in the Milwaukee community at their 50th Anniversary Picnic & Carnival event on Saturday, July 21, from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm at 6700 N. Port Washington Road in Milwaukee. All proceeds will help to sustain and strengthen the nonprofit organization’s special education, therapy and support services for children with special needs or developmental delays.

“We are really honored to be celebrating this milestone anniversary. Over the past five decades of service, St. Francis Children’s Center has touched the lives of over 30,000 children,” explained Mara Duckens, Executive Director of St. Francis Children’s Center. “Our success is due to our dedicated staff, involved families and active community partners who have helped us stay relevant as a leader in special education. Today, we continue to evolve and add innovative programs so that we can meet the needs of all children in our community.”

St. Francis Children’s Center was founded in 1968 by Sister Joanne Marie Kliebhan, then head of the Special Education Department of Cardinal Stritch University and Eli Tash, a Jewish businessman and the father of a son with special needs. Their shared vision was to someday create a unique learning center that would stimulate the early development of children with special needs. They believed, “all children can learn if we can learn how to teach them.”

Planned activities include: carnival games, tours of the center, a catered lunch from Mr. Picnic, kids’ hairdos from Cost Cutters, a cupcake walk, arts and crafts, a bounce house, music from Fox & Branch, stories from the Pocket Lady, a program featuring our very own SFCC kids and much more. Be sure to stick around until the end for birthday cake! Some activities will require additional fees.

Through July 12, tickets for the catered meal will be $12 for adults, $6 for children (ages 4-12) and free for toddlers (age 3 and under) at Ticket prices will increase starting Friday, July 13th. We encourage everyone to purchase tickets in advance, as only a limited number will be available on the day of the event. You can support the event by making a donation or “Sponsoring a Family” for just $36 in honor of our 50th Anniversary on our website at

St. Francis Children’s Center specializes in helping children from birth through 22 years of age enhance their development, overcome their challenges and maximize their early education experiences. The nonprofit organization believes that all children, regardless of their backgrounds and abilities, can achieve success within their home, their school and in our community.

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