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Drexel Celebrates $2.5M Sheller Family Foundation Gift to 11th Street

March 20, 2014

At a special luncheon at the Paul Peck Alumni Center on February 17, Drexel University and the College of Nursing and Health Professions celebrated a $2.5 million gift from the Sheller Family Foundation for the expansion of 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University. Groundbreaking for the expansion project of the nurse-managed health center, which has been renamed in the benefactors’ honor, is expected to take place next month.

“At 11th Street, people receive holistic, comprehensive care that recognizes their struggle and adversity cannot be separated from their health care needs,” said Sandra Lee Sheller, director, president, and co-founder of the Sheller Family Foundation. “My husband and I are glad to be a contributor for a model for future health care for the entire country, one that gives students in the health care professions the best possible education and experience about health care in an underserved community.”  Sandra Sheller is an alumna of the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Art Therapy Program (’04) and Couple and Family Therapy Program (’05).

Her husband, Stephen Sheller, Esq., is a Drexel University trustee, prominent Philadelphia attorney, and co-founder of the Sheller Family Foundation. “We want to make certain that the best possible health services are provided to a major underserved community in our region – and also make an impact beyond that community,” he said. “We’ll see that impact because 11th Street is a bellwether for the country and has set the standard for the future in terms of its entire concept of care.”

At the luncheon, Patricia Gerrity, PhD, Director of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services Center and Associate Dean for Community Programs at the College of Nursing and Health Professions, explained that the health center faces space limitations in its current facility. Although the health center was able to provide a staggering 32,000 clinical service visits last year, some patients had to be turned away. “We reached a point where we could not serve all the people who needed services,” Gerrity said. “The expansion will change that.” The two-story expansion project will create needed additional space for primary care visits and include a new studio for dance, music, and art therapies. The expansion will also provide space for more students and faculty from the College of Nursing and Health Professions to learn and practice.

Drexel University President John A. Fry stands behind the health center and its expansion. “Drexel has a responsibility to help build healthy communities in Philadelphia, and the 11th Street Health Center has been in the vanguard of that effort for more than fifteen years,” he said at the luncheon. “Steve and Sandy’s incredible vision and generous support will allow us to provide more patients with more services, while continuing to educate students at the leading edge of innovation in health care.”

The Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services Center is nationally recognized as an innovative model of care, integrating behavioral health services with primary care visits. The health center also offers a range of health promotion programs and services that include dental care, family planning, prenatal care, physical therapy, chronic disease management programs, health education, nutrition counseling, food distribution, fitness training, mobile mammography, an urban farming program for adolescent community members, health outreach, transportation to services, social work, a reading program for youth, and dance movement therapy.