Janet Lawson, MFT | December 31, 2011
With only a few hours to go before the new year we want to look back on Autistry’s tremendous growth and achievement in 2011.
We survived the great move. It was a big risk to take the program out of the small barn and into the huge warehouse. We all crossed our fingers and held our breaths each month as rent time drew near. But with all the new students, the new classes, grants from foundations and generous donations from families we were able to meet our obligations and grow our program. We are going into 2012 with strong backing and very strong prospects for growth.
We had great events and activities. We started off the year in January with our first warehouse party to celebrate Ian’s 16th birthday. And we discovered that the warehouse makes a very cool dance hall.
It also makes a great art studio as we found in February when portrait artist Robert Evans came for a Painting Day. 10 amazing paintings were created that day and auctioned at our March fundraiser.
After learning that our studio wasn’t quite up to fire code for large public gatherings our March fundraiser, Dancin’ at Duffy Place actually took place at the Marin Art and Garden Center. A perfect example of “falling upwards”. The event was gorgeous and the sparkly fireplace added a charm and warmth that made the change of location seem like a stroke of genius rather than a Hail Mary pass. (Huge thank you goes to Diane Doodha for graciously saving our event)
In July we had the first Autistry Camping Trip – an adventure in Willets. Staff and students hiked, built rafts, and did some target practice. A crazy, wonderful time was had by all and it was unanimously decided to make this an annual event. There is talk of a trip to the High Sierras. So, look for announcements for Camping Summer 2012!
The October Spin ‘n Sizzle fundraising spinathon at Body Image Fitness Center in Mill Valley was a great success and it too will be an annual, if not semi-annual event. Michael and Christine Lopez were wonderful hosts and Chris and Mindy Schreil kept the BBQ blazing. We love these spinning events – easy to do, healthy and fun.
The students produced amazing projects. Over 75 people attended our end-of-semester Holiday Party and Open House and they were greeted with the premiere showing of the Deadly Diamond, improvisational theater, original comedy sketches, dioramas, handmade guitars, paintings and other incredible Autistry student creations.
And we have grown. We now offer 9 Core Workshops, monthly Parent Support Meetings, Sibling Groups, the Gaming Group and on-site individual counseling. We have over 30 students and more join the waiting list every day. We went from a staff of 3 to a staff of 8. The new Autistry staff bring a wealth of talent and skills and they make our program richer.
We have lots of plans for 2012 but I will leave that for the next newsletter. Tonight we raise a toast to our wonderful Autistry community and thank you all for helping us build a program we can all be proud of.
Happy New Year!
Janet, Dan, Courtenay, Sara, Anna, Jeremy, Caitlin and Melissa