Joey and Christy Porter open the Jasmine Nyree Campus to help Pittsburgh adults with special needs

With one in 54 children living with autism in the U.S., many services have been developed to help these kids. But once they turn 21, the services dwindle dramatically.

Former Steelers player and coach Joey Porter and his wife, Christy, discovered this as their daughter, Jasmine Nyree, who is autisic and non-verbal, turned 22.  Now, they’re creating a place for adults with special needs, as well as a community center and an after-school center in Sheraden.

“I thought, well, I can’t find adequate care for Jasmine. Why not create it?” Christy Porter said.  “If I’m a parent and I’m going through these issues, I’m sure hundreds of other families are going through the same problem that I am finding this quality care.”

The Porters are creating that and so much more, calling it the Jasmine Nyree Campus.

They purchased and are transforming four buildings that were part of the Holy Innocents Catholic parish and school in Sheraden. The former rectory is now the administrative offices. The former convent will become a supportive space for special needs adults. The former middle school will be a community center. And the former elementary school is already converted into a learning center, where you’ll see names like Jerome Bettis in the gym and Mike and Kiya Tomlin in the STEAM lab.

Myron Terry, director of the learning center, says it’s about providing exposure and opportunity to the kids who can come here right from Langley K-8 school, across the street. “Ultimately,  I want to be able to look on TV at some point when someone’s running a Fortune 500 company and say, ‘Hey, that’s a Jasmine Nyree kid there.’ That’s my ultimate goal, and that’s when I’ll know we’ve done our job.”

The Porters have given their own money to the project and done much of the renovations themselves. They’re excited about helping the kids and families of Sheraden, in addition to adults with special needs. Christy explains, “We also have after-school programming here in the community where our facility will double from a day program for special needs adults during the day and an after-school program in the afternoon for children. All our services are 100% free for the individuals who are receiving these services.”

And that’s not all. There’s a food pantry, a grocery delivery drop-off, an employment center, a GED program, and there will be a laundromat and free childcare for employees.

It will take a few years to complete. But in the end, the Jasmine Nyree Campus plans to employ 200 people, 50 of whom are special needs

“We all have a purpose here in life,” Christy said, “and I think that this is my family’s purpose. This is God’s mission for me, and I’m happy to be able to fulfill my mission that God has set forth for me and my family.”