A Conversation with Logan's Dan Harshman

When you think of Logan Center, green noses and the Great Logan Nose On Luncheon may come to mind. The massive fundraiser held each year raises much needed funds to help the people in Michiana with developmental disabilities.

But there is a lot you may not know about Logan and the man who, for 35 years, has been their biggest advocate.

I recently sat down for a conversation with outgoing-CEO Dan Harshman, whose vision has brought Logan a long way from their humble beginnings and back to a town where he'd spent his college years.

When Dan Harshman was playing on Notre Dame's 1966 championship football team, his thoughts were on the game. After graduating in 1968, he never thought he would end up in South Bend and it would shape so much of his future.

"No and not in South Bend and not at Logan because Logan Center was not what it is today, not even close," explains Harshman.

Before Logan Center built their current home off Jefferson Boulevard, Logan Center was at the corner of, what was then, Eddy Street and Angela Boulevard, the present home of Eddy Street Commons. Prior to that, Logan was located in a little building at the corner of Lincolnway and Logan, the street from which Logan took its name in 1950.

Harshman says Logan was born out of a dream by the parents of special needs children who did not want them to be locked away.

"This group of parents said, 'We're not going to do that, we're going to figure this out, have our kids home with us. We're going to figure this out.' Basically they started a school, the first Logan School," says Harshman.

That included people like Logan's first president, Joe Newman, who at 95 is still a Logan supporter today. And Marion and Sol Waxman, whose son Irving, affectionately known at Butch, died after a wonderful life. Thanks to his parents and Logan.

"They got The Family and Children's Center to let them use an older school building which they fixed up with just the volunteer parents," Harshman explains.

Dan and his wife Betty, with three kids in tow, came back to South Bend. He took a job with Logan and two years later was CEO, continuing the passion ignited by those first parents, furthering Logan's mission to be an advocate for the developmentally challenged.

He says he learned a lot from those parents. "They fought even to change the law nationally and statewide for the free public education, which we think of as 'special ed,' but that didn't exist until about the middle 70s. So from 1950 until the 1970s we were the school for South Bend."

Logan gave special needs children a place they had never known before and as they blossomed, so did Logan.

Starting with a school of 20 in 1950, Logan evolved to start Logan Industries, putting developmentally disabled adults to work in 1950.

Next came early childhood intervention, group homes, protective services, a day program for the severely handicapped and even bringing the International Special Olympics to South Bend in 1987.

Then just six years ago, Logan opened its Autism Center.

And Harshman says at the heart of it all is a community that just keeps giving. A community that came to Logan last Sunday to thank Harshman for his 35 years of advocacy.

And he sees nothing but good things ahead for Logan, although he's making no predictions about the next 10 or 20 years, "Boy, I don't know, but I think it's going to be exciting and I am anxious to see it and watch it from the sidelines."

Watching from the sidelines. Something that may not be easy for this former Notre Dame standout, but he's leaving Logan poised to score big in the years to come.

Harshman retires at the end of the year and says they have three solid candidates and an announcement on his successor could come within the week.

For more information about Logan or to help out you can go to their website: www.logancenter.org

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