In 1967, with the demand for additional rehabilitation services and more space, the Board approved the purchase of land at our present site on Kennedy Road. With an additional $60,000 from the Junior League of Lexington and a mortgage, a 12,500 square foot facility was built. Then again in 1972, demand from both consumers and businesses created the need to build an addition to the physical plant and increase OWL’s rehabilitation department, doubling the plant to 25,000 square feet. In 1977, OWL purchase an additional 150 front footage of land on Kennedy Road, where, in 1982, an annex was constructed with funds generated from over 20 years of operations by the 4,566 trainees/employees who had been served up to that time, bringing the total square footage to 37,000. In 1989, OWL began an outside services department providing janitorial services, later adding mowing services, to government agencies and other customers. The off-site contracts allowed for additional training and employment opportunities.
In 1998, OWL purchased a 6,500 square foot building adjacent to its Kennedy Road location to allow for future expansion possibilities. In the same year, the Rehabilitation Department split and created a new division called Skill Enhancement and Employment Center (SEEC). This move helped promote a continued focus of serving persons with Learning Disabilities (LD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Then, in 1998, a task force was formed by Board members and staff to change OWL’s name, Opportunity for Work and Learning (keeping OWL), and logo to better reflect the mission of OWL. In 2001, OWL initiated a diversification project with the goal of further implementing “best practices” for the manufacturing department, expanding the industrial base of jobs and providing more employment opportunities.
By 2003, OWL had successfully met requirements for our Quality Management System for ISO- 9001:2000 Certification. Our manufacturing department was renamed, Lexington Manufacturing Center, and began branding the Center with its own logo. Over the next two years, we purchased additional property adjacent to our current site on Kennedy Road. Three buildings, the largest being 40,000 square feet, and a vacant lot, provided needed space for current operations and allowed options for future growth. In 2006, approval was given to start the process to establish the OWL Foundation as a means to further our community awareness and to support special projects. The OWL Foundation received 501 (c) 3 determination on February 14, 2007, and the OWL Foundation began operation in July of 2007.