Lifespan – Abilities Illuminated

History & Timeline

The year was 1973 when Leigh Derby founded St. Mark’s Center because five children were excluded from a Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school education due to their significant developmental disabilities. A group of concerned citizens from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and the Arc of Mecklenburg County formed a group and created an educational day program in the basement of St Mark’s Lutheran Church. The class was held in space donated by St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Charlotte, and the name St. Mark’s Center was adopted in honor of the church and its members who helped.

The children’s program was very successful; therefore, by 1980, the demand for services had drastically increased along with the need for space at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. St. Mark’s, Inc. relocated to a new facility on North Graham Street in Charlotte, which is now home to the LIFESPAN Creative Campus – Center City program. During this time, adult services were added and recruitment efforts expanded to individuals beyond the Charlotte region.

In 2000, the name changed to LIFESPAN, Inc. to better reflect the work provided: offering support and opportunities throughout an individual’s lifespan.

During the last four decades, LIFESPAN, Inc. has remained steadfast to the mission through education, employment and enrichment opportunities. The organization continues to thrive and today provides services to over 1,500 children and adults in the state of North Carolina, expanding from Cherokee to Alamance County. The services include 10 Creative Campuses, two Circle Schools, 14 group homes and 13 alternative family living homes.

LIFESPAN Throughout the Years