VTC hosted more than 200 people Thursday to show off its new building, designed by Palacios Architects and built by Diani Building Corp. and Smith Electric of Santa Maria. It’s the first new building in the 50-year history of the nonprofit organization.

CEO of VTC, Kirk Spry noted that he felt the opening of this new building kind of closes the door on the first 50 years of VTC and opens the door to the next 50 years.

The new building will enable VTC to better serve severely disabled persons, many of whom are in wheelchairs. The new structure will be more colorful, spacious and will provide a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere that is conducive to the skills training provided.

The 18,600 square foot facility replaces two deteriorating buildings that have been used since 1969. The City of Santa Maria’s decision to extend McCoy Lane through VTC’s property resulted in the sale of land whose proceeds have been used as seed money to help raise the funds necessary to complete construction.

Kirk Spry said tears of joy trickled down the mother’s face when she saw the ceiling-mounted track system that will allow VTC staff to lift her daughter out of her wheelchair at the touch of a button.  “It enables folks in wheelchairs to transfer from the chair to a changing table, beds, and restroom facilities” Spry said. “A lot of the folks served in this building are in wheelchairs, many of them are not able to fully take care of themselves.”

The track system is just one highlight of the sparkling new 18,600-square-foot facility that will allow VTC to provide life skills training for some of the most severely disabled adults in the Santa Maria Valley.

Another highlight of the new facility is an interior courtyard, which he said will allow VTC participants to get outside in a safe environment; until now, they haven’t had an enclosed place where they can enjoy the outdoors.

VTC won’t officially get to begin using the facility until next month, when all of the finishing touches are complete. Then demolition of some of the old buildings will begin. The entire project is expected to be complete in spring 2012.

VTC is a non-profit organization whose goal is to teach independent living skills, vocational skills and obtain employment for persons with disabilities. The organization was founded in 1962 and will celebrate its 50 year anniversary next year.