My husband and I had retired in 2006 and were planning a move from Northern California to the California Central Coast to be nearer our daughter and new son-in-law, Danny. Our plans changed very quickly when our son-in-law was offered and accepted a position with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix. Our daughter was born here in Phoenix while my husband was stationed at Luke Air Force Base. It had never occurred to us that we would again be living in the Valley of the Sun but here we are. As a member of Soroptimist International for over 30 years and having been involved in many and varied community service projects, I needed something to do and decided it was time for me to become involved. On Tuesdays and Thursdays my grandson, Grady and I go to SARRC together. You will find me at the front desk on those days. I have been volunteering at SARRC for two years now and have enjoyed every day. The staff and volunteers are very dedicated to SARRC and it is a pleasure to work with them. The MOST rewarding part of any day I spend at SARRC is the interaction with the children, both typical and those in the spectrum. The growth of each and every child is nothing short of amazing.
I have an autistic granddaughter that I have adopted and raised since the age of 7 months. Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center was not around when she was first diagnosed with autism. When I first started taking her to SARRC, it was amazing the things that I discovered that they were doing for the children. She quit talking when she was 15 months of age. It took almost 4 years for her to become verbal again, allbeit just one word. There came a time that SARRC began Life Skills classes with her. They teach the children to make simple meals, how to wash clothes; teach hygiene and so many other things that allow a child like mine to be able to live somewhat independently. The other thing that my child has learned is socialization. There is a monthly "Monday Night Out" at the Life Skills Building. They have dinner, interact with the staff and each other. My child loves going there. She has found it easier to interact with others that are like her. She also has mild mental retardation, so there will be other things that she will not be able to do and will have to have a guardian after I am gone. I do volunteering there and love doing it and I love the staff; they are just wonderful. I also attend the monthly Grandparent's Meeting (or get-together) that they provide. There will be great speakers at those meetings that provide a lot of help and knowledge to the grandparents, some of which are raising their autistic grandchildren such as I am doing. I just cannot say enough about the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC).
I have been volunteering for this organization since its inception. At first I assisted in getting their small center improvemnts builtout and then with full reconstruction of the interior of their 18,000sf core campus. A few years ago I assisted them with the entitlement and buildout of their Vocational facility, which now houses both vocational programs and the research group. I have personally experienced the planned and well directed work this group does everyday for the children with autism and their families. Always caring, always focused on the individual needs of each person. Autism is not the same for everyone and SARRC does an excellent job addressing the unique needs as well as offering best practices when it comes to therapy and research. I have been an advisory board member and for the past 4 years a board member. This is a wonderful organization and an answer for many families' prayers.