In 1973, 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. Concerned citizens from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and the Arc of Mecklenburg County worked together to create an educational day program held in the basement of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Charlotte. The program adopted the name St. Mark’s Center in honor of the church and its supportive members.
By 1980, the children’s program was in such high demand that more services and resources were needed. St. Mark’s, Inc. relocated to a newer, larger facility on North Graham Street in Charlotte, which is now home to the LIFESPAN Creative Campus - Center City program. Adult services have since been 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 its mission through education, employment, and enrichment opportunities. LIFESPAN continues to thrive and provide community-based programming to children and adults in 20 counties within North Carolina. Services now include 8 creative campuses, 3 inclusive childcare facilities, 9 group homes, and 13 alternative family living homes.