UCP of Central Arizona’s Laura Dozer Center in North Phoenix is celebrating 20 years of service in the Valley this March. Located at 19th Ave. and Pinnacle Peak, the Laura Dozer facility has provided physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy to thousands of children and hundreds of adults who have been part of the facility’s day treatment center since opening in 2003.

LEARN MORE: The 100 Best Doctors in Arizona for 2024

The center was originally built thanks to the generosity of Rich and Karie Dozer, Valley philanthropists who focus their giving on many causes including health and human services for the underserved in Arizona. Through their leadership, the Dozers brought together many community partners, including Jerry and Joan Colangelo of the Phoenix Suns, to secure the resources needed to build the new center. The campus, named after the Dozers’ late daughter, Laura Grace, was designed specifically to meet the needs of children and adults with disabilities and their families.

“I feel like UCP is one of the Valley’s greatest kept secrets,” said Karie. “Our journey began when Laura was about 18 months old. We took her to a UCP facility in Central Phoenix where the therapists were over-the-top amazing, but the facility was small and not very inviting. I still remember wishing the facility was brighter and bigger. So, we set our minds to it and made it happen. Now here we are, 20 years later.” 

The need for the Laura Dozer Center was driven by the increasing need to provide therapeutic services to Valley children and adults with disabilities. In 1992, service hours at UCP of Central Arizona were roughly 27,000 hours a year. In 2001, before the Laura Dozer facility opened, the demand for services increased to 153,000 hours annually. Today UCP of Central Arizona continues to grow. In 2023, service hours at the nonprofit organization’s two Valley locations exceed 250,000 hours annually for all programs combined and the need continues to climb. 

“When you walk through the doors of the Laura Dozer Center, immediately you feel the lobby wrap you with warmth,” said Valerie Pieraccini, Vice President of Clinical Operations and Innovation at UCP of Central Arizona. “The natural light, the subtle colors of nature and the beautiful children’s murals tell you it’s a place where victory over obstacles and success can happen, despite the challenges our families face.” 

“Our beautiful Laura Dozer campus is just the beginning of a family’s experience as it only mirrors the life-changing work that’s done inside its walls. Individuals and families who come here are never the same – and for that I am immensely proud,” Pieraccini added.

As one of the state’s oldest private, nonprofit health and human service organizations, UCP of Central Arizona provides service to individuals with a wide array of disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, sensory processing disorder, genetic disorders, orthopedic disabilities, birth defects, effects of in-utero drug or alcohol exposure, traumatic brain injuries and developmental delays.

Since opening the 50,000 square-foot facility in 2003, the Laura Dozer Center has expanded to include a world-class motor disorder clinic, feeding clinic, mCIMT or Modified Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) therapy and the cutting-edge ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System, the only pediatric one of its kind in the Southwest U.S.

The Laura Dozer Center is a full-service site that is home to the Early Learning Center (ELC). The ELC offers a high-quality learning environment for 53 children with and without disabilities from six weeks to five years.

It also has a Day Treatment and Training for Adults (DTA) program that serves 34 adults annually with severe developmental disabilities in a center-based setting at the North Phoenix campus. Five days a week, members can practice socialization, improve language and communication skills and accomplish individual goals established in individual service plans.

“Over the last two decades, my life has been and continues to be enriched and blessed by each and every one of the children and families we serve,” said Atalie Ho Lem, physical therapist at UCP of Central Arizona and one of the original staff members at the Laura Dozer facility. “Throughout my career here, the children and families I’ve worked with have been my teachers, too. I always say that if they have learned from me even half of what I’ve learned from them, life is good!”

UCP of Central Arizona has served families with disabilities across the Valley for more than 70 years. With the support of its Champion Partner, Circle K, UCP of Central Arizona provides comprehensive services to individuals with disabilities and their families by providing physical and developmental support as well as educational growth for infants, children and adults.

For more information about UCP of Central Arizona, the clients it serves, and the programs offered, visit https://ucpofcentralaz.org/