Our History

Our History

Founders Otto and Mildred Heinzerling

Founders Otto and Mildred Heinzerling

Otto and Mildred Heinzerling always shared a love of children. Raising three of their own together, and many more while operating an in-home day care center, the Heinzerlings’ transition to a more important calling seemed only natural.

Following his retirement from the United States Navy, Otto was attending a monthly meeting of his local Civitan Club when he heard a presentation given on mental retardation and became aware of a void in the system whereby no provisions existed to provide care or services for infants with severe or profound mental retardation from birth to six years of age.

Sadly, children in Central Ohio with severe and profound mental retardation had few options. Most lived lonely lives and died very young until the Heinzerlings walked into a bank, mortgaged their home and decided to open a home for these special individuals.


“Peck O’ Wee Ones” September 15, 1959

On September 15, 1959, “Peck O’ Wee Ones” opened its doors in a converted medical office building on East Broad Street in Whitehall. Licensed for 12 beds, Otto and Mildred Heinzerling began providing round-the-clock care for their special residents.

Working without salaries, the Heinzerlings began what would become the work of future generations.

Otto manned the office, recruited volunteers and raised money. Mildred transferred her commitment to these new children. In the beginning, she did it all: bathing, feeding, changing diapers, and cooking. On the weekends, she and Otto packed a small bag and spent the night there, sleeping on narrow cots.

“Peck O’ Wee Ones” was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under section 1702.01 et seq., of the Revised Code of Ohio.

“Peck O’ Wee Ones” was granted exemption from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Sertoma International awarded Otto Heinzerling its “Service To Mankind ” award. Eventually, with the demand for services increasing, the home they called “Peck O’ Wee Ones” outgrew its original facility and Otto began raising funds for a larger building. Unfortunately, neither would live to see its completion.

Mildred Heinzerling passed away.

Robert A. Heinzerling

Robert A. Heinzerling

When Otto Heinzerling passed away, the family decided to continue operations. Otto and Mildred’s son, Robert A. Heinzerling, D.D.S., was appointed Executive Director.

Dr. Heinzerling renamed the facility the “Heinzerling Memorial Foundation” in memory of his parents.

The Foundation hired John A. Taylor as Administrator to manage the day-to-day business of the burgeoning organization.

Heinzerling Memorial Foundation

The Heinzerling Memorial Foundation, a 22,400 square foot, state-of-the-art facility opened on its new 50 acre campus in Southwest Columbus. The 64 original beds were filled immediately and the Foundation was granted licensing for 104 beds to serve its growing population of children through age 12. With the children growing older, the need to transition them to an environment better suited to dealing with their larger physical presence and adult requirements became obvious. The Administration began planning for a second facility.


The governing board changed the corporation’s name from Peck O’ Wee Ones to the Heinzerling Foundation.

Heinzerling Development Center

The Heinzerling Developmental Center, an adult facility, opened its 104 beds to serve those residents transitioning from the children’s building to a facility better suited to handle the needs of larger non-ambulatory individuals.



The Heinzerling Foundation assumed management of a state operated group home on Minnesota Avenue for five middle aged men with mild to moderate mental retardation.

Kathryn Heinzerling

Dr. Heinzerling passed away. His widow, Kathryn P. Heinzerling, RN, became Executive Director.

Construction began on a 22,700 sq. ft. addition to the Heinzerling Memorial Foundation building. Dietary Services was slated for a complete makeover.

Heinzerling Memorial Foundation Addition

The Heinzerling Memorial Foundation addition opened. The original portion of this was also renovated and updated.





Seasonal Shelter House

Construction began on a seasonal shelter house for residents and staff.





Kathryn P. Heinzerling

The Kathryn P. Heinzerling Shelter House was officially dedicated on September 7th. Heinzerling Developmental Center was given a complete interior update.

John A. "Al" Taylor


Kathryn P. Heinzerling retired. John A. Taylor was appointed Executive Director, and Robert E. Heinzerling, a third generation founding family member, became Administrator.



Heinzerling Residential Center

Heinzerling Residential Center residents moved to a newly purchased group home.



Today we care for over 200 residents

Today, more than 200 children and adults reside at the Heinzerling Foundation. Around the clock we care and look out for our beloved guests. Throughout the year we organize seasonal activities, holiday festivities and look forward to each guest’s  birthday celebration.


Robert E. Heinzerling

On February 1, 2006, Robert E. Heinzerling was appointed Executive Director. He is the grandson of the founders Otto and Mildred Heinzerling, and son of Dr. Robert A. and Kathryn P. Heinzerling. Mr. Heinzerling began his business career with Standard Register Company following his graduation from The Ohio State University in 1990, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication. In October 1999, Mr. Heinzerling joined the Foundation as an Administrator in Training. He received his Nursing Home Administrators license in August 2000 and assumed the position of Administrator in January 2001.


N. Christine Rafeld

Ms. N. Christine Rafeld began her career as a teacher placed at Heinzerling Memorial Foundation with Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities in 1980. She joined the Heinzerling staff in October 1981 as Assistant Program Director and was promoted to Program Director at the Memorial Foundation in 1982, a position she held for 17 years. In 1999, Ms. Rafeld became the Director of Human Resources and developed that department into one of strategic importance to the organization. She was promoted to Administrator in July 2006. Ms. Rafeld holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Masters degree in Health and Hospital Administration (MHA) from The Ohio State University. Ms. Rafeld received her Nursing Home Administrator’s license in 1993 and earned the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification in 2002.


Heinzerling Residential Center

After overseeing Heinzerling Residential Center, our group home, for over 23 years, the Heinzerling Board of Trustees made the decision to sell the group home to Columbus Center for Human Services, a local organization that specialized in the management of group homes serving individuals with disabilities. This allowed for a smooth transition for the 5 group home residents as they were able to remain in familiar surroundings with a few of the same staff who changed employers to be able to stay with them. This change allowed Heinzerling management staff to focus on further developing the services to residents at the Memorial Foundation and Developmental Center.


OSE Pre-construction

OSE Fully Functional

In 2008, we began to formulate a plan to build an outdoor sensory environment for residents that would provide stimulation of all of the sensory systems, be completely accessible and serve as a gathering place in a beautiful outdoor setting. A landscape architect was engaged to develop this unique project. After gathering staff input about the various components desired in the space, he presented the plan to the Board and the project was approved. Fundraising began in earnest. Many donors, including corporations and individuals, gave generously to support this project. A contractor was hired and we broke ground in March 2012 on the wooded area adjacent to the shelter house. Construction was completed in June 2012 and the Outdoor Sensory Environment (OSE) opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 29, 2012.

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