The Center For Discovery

At The Center for Discovery, people with disabilities work hard to find a way forward as they shape lives of meaning.

The supports we offer are grounded in the land and our community of care and education, which for many years has integrated food and farming, science and research, and health and wellness.

We are a vibrantly successful program that encourages people with intellectual and physical challenges to defy expectations, while simultaneously evolving new models for living.

What happens here matters everywhere.


Walter J. Scherr is a highly successful international businessman who overcame many obstacles through persistence, honor, and commitment. He grew up during the depression in Ozone Park, Queens, was diagnosed with tuberculosis at a young age and then quarantined at a large sanitarium for a number of years. Walter never forgot what it meant to be removed from society because of a disability nor the compassionate care that he received from his caregivers.

Walter was first introduced to The Center by his respected surgeon, Dr. George Todd, who invited him to tour the agency’s advanced programs and facilities. In response to what he witnessed and the high quality of care provided, Walter established the Vera and Walter Scherr Scholarship Program to provide financial assistance to Center staff looking to pursue an advanced degree or continuing professional education/certification. This innovative program not only served to assist The Center by enhancing its workforce, but also provided the means to honor caregivers and recognize those who committed themselves to the caring profession.

More recently, Walter and the Scherr Family have gone on to champion the development of a Maker’s Lab and Learning Center featuring the use of such technologies as 3-D printers, laser cutters and CNC routers. In this environment, the engineering, artistic and design talents of people in the larger community will be joined with the specialized skills of The Center’s long-established Advanced Rehabilitation Technology Design group. Their objective: to create and encourage new technologies and devices that assist people with special needs, disabilities and age-related conditions – and share them with the world.

Learn More About Walter’s Life Through His Book: Walter’s Way

See Article About Walter in the Wall Street Journal

HARRIS, N.Y. — It takes innovation, passion, and a willingness to fiercely confront challenges head-on to have the level of impact The Center for Discovery is making.

A newly released economic impact study highlights how The Center for Discovery is improving the local and state economy, the fields of education, healthcare and research, and most of all, the lives of individuals with complex disabilities. Still Sullivan County’s largest employer, The Center has created more than $1 billion of economic impact for the State of New York between 2011 and 2016. The non-profit organization generates nearly $200 million of economic activity for the state each year, according to the report, entitled “Transforming Lives Through Research, Innovation & Economic Development.”

From just 25 employees in 1980, The Center has grown to 1,560 employees in 2016, and it pays an average compensation that is 33 percent higher than the average private sector wage in Sullivan County. The Center has invested $9 million over the last decade into the hamlet of Hurleyville’s downtown area, refurbishing small businesses and building the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab, Hurleyville Arts Centre and sidewalks to benefit the public as well as residents and students of The Center. Major philanthropy, government grants, infrastructure support and new businesses have all contributed to these revitalization efforts, and their success has created jobs, preserved land, improved the local economy, and enhanced the lives of students, residents, and the whole community.

“Disability care has been stifled by the historic bigotry of a system with almost nonexistent expectations for individuals with complex conditions to have a quality of life,” said Patrick H. Dollard, President and CEO of The Center for Discovery. “We challenge that. We believe all people can have a meaningful life. We use research, philanthropy, public-private partnerships and other innovations to continually build better lives for our residents and students. But the best part is that this is good for everyone- our research breakthroughs can assist people with any form of brain dysregulation, from dementia to normal aging. And the private philanthropy we’ve brought to our local community of Hurleyville have resulted in resources like the Hurleyville Arts Centre and the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab, which everyone benefits from.”

Among the highlights of the report:

  • The Center’s pioneering practices are internationally-recognized and have led to its designation as a New York State Center of Excellence;
  • The Center is uniquely positioned to conduct groundbreaking research that will improve health and learning outcomes for thousands of individuals with Autism and medical complexities worldwide;
  • The Center’s public-private partnerships have brought in significant external funds that would not otherwise have entered Sullivan County;
  • The Center’s Hurleyville revitalization initiatives serve as a model for how a prominent institution can play a leading role in economic redevelopment while creating more inclusive and supportive communities;
  • In 2016, The Center paid nearly $200,000 in direct property taxes while generating $9.9 million total state and local tax revenue;

The Center for Discovery is a provider of healthcare and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex disabilities, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders, located 90 miles northwest of New York City. It has long been a leader in developing new models of care for individuals with complex conditions. On 1,500 acres of land in Sullivan County, The Center houses school campuses, residences, medical and research facilities, organic and biodynamic farmland, and leased private businesses. Deeply focused on an individual’s personal potential and possibilities, rather than a disability, The Center strives to create better care and opportunity for the most vulnerable populations.

Read the full report here: View Fullscreen

Walter Scherr, Author of Award Winning Walter's Way, is a career businessman who was also an Associate Professor at Farmingdale State School and PhD candidate at NYU, He received his bachelor’s degree from Pace College attending night school, and his master’s degree from Hofstra University over the course of 15 years. He overcame many obstacles through persistence, honor, and commitment. He is a devoted family man, and an active philanthropist.

Co-Founder of The Vera and Walter Scherr and Family Foundation. Husband, father of four, grandfather of 11, and great grampy of 2. Principle and Board member of 1st publicly traded Facsimile Company. Director, CFO, Executive Vice President: Veeco Instruments Inc. General Manager of UPA Technology Division, Group Vice President at Litton Industries, Managing Director Sperry LTD.

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