2011 is a wrap and as usual it feels like another year went by in the blink of an eye. It’s only in reflection that I am reminded that what feels like a blink now wasn’t. TACA was a whirlwind of activity all year; helping families, building relationships, and expanding our community. This could not have happened without the people dedicated to the TACA mission. Thank you all.
Since TACA’s beginnings almost 12 years ago I have been sending out an end of year update. As usual I’d like to start with a Jeff update. He is my TACA inspiration and keeps me going.
Jeff, now 14 years old, is a joy and blessing to our family. He continues to surprise us. He is in a regular 8th grade class. There are struggles with aspects of reading comprehension, essay composition, abstract curriculum and math reasoning but works diligently to keep up. Jeff always seems to rise to meet new challenges with a smile on his face and a spirit that inspires everyone around him. Jeff’s language and social skills continue to develop. He likes girls, has developed new friends, participated in his school play and was student of the year for his 7th grade class.
I share this background about because my family was told many times “there is nothing you can do”. I marvel with happiness that he continues to progress and gain new skills and awareness. It is my sincere hope that other families will be inspired by Jeff to continue to fight for their child. I know there are children with an autism diagnosis who excel well beyond Jeff and others who, despite intense intervention, have made only small gains. I also know that every little bit we can do to help our kids make developmental progress makes a difference. Our kids need us to never give up.
Now on to TACA 2011! Here’s some program highlights:
- Chapters & Meetings – TACA’s volunteer chapter leaders and key volunteers brought the TACA mission to their community. 25 chapters and held 300 meetings & coffee talks across the U.S.
- Mentors – almost 300 connections were made with TACA trained parent mentors to families needing help on their autism journey.
- TACA answered over 8,000 calls and emails for help in 2011 providing Real Help Now to families across the country.
- A Blog was born – I have had a new outlet to share via the TACAnowblog.com with 26 posts (plus 2 guests posts) since the April launch.
- Real Help Now Live Chat – Almost 550 Live Chat sessions occurred on the TACA website. This program was completed with a mostly volunteer group of parents.
- Facebook and Twitter – News stories, TACA family friendly recipes, tips, and TACA stories are posted daily. Hundreds were posted in 2011.
- Additional TACA programs across the U.S. – Read more about TACA’s programs.
As 2011 comes to a close TACA counts almost 28,000 families affected by autism in its community. On average we over 450 new families a month contacted us.
I know I’ve said thank you in general but I’ve got some specific shout-outs for the TACA staff. They make all things TACA possible. Thank you Violette, Stephanie, Trang, Diana, Amy, Mari, Moira, Sarah, Summer, Jackie, Susan, Holly, Roxanne, Julie. Thank you to all the volunteers. Thank you to the TACA Board who serve, guide and fundraises to help make it happen (Glen, Pat, Dan and Chad).
Thank you to our Volunteer Chapter Coordinators and the over 250 mentor families who serve selflessly. You are core to our mission of Families Helping Families and ensure that are programs reach families local communities. TACA would be lost without this incredibly dedicated team of volunteers.
2011 was our second year for TACA Ambassadors and Physician Advisory Team. Ambassadors and Physician Advisors support TACA in their professional circle and talk about curing autism on a regular basis. These friends have made invaluable contributions to help champion the mission.
TACA has learned to do MORE with LESS. As with all non profits the economy has had an impact on donations. Despite this we have found ways to acquire help and continue our programs. Much gratitude to the almost 2,000 businesses and individuals that made donations in 2011. Our major donors include: Oakley, Jack FM, Oxyhealth, Kirkman Group, OC Community Foundation, Hope4Hanna, Bikram Yoga in Silverlake, Buchanan Street Children’s Charities, Volcom, Gladiator events with Dan “Nitro” Clark, Inhouse IT, Midwest Insurance, Sunwest Bank, Ryan & Paige Getzlaf, Hawaii Autism Foundation (Beautiful Son Foundation), The Carney Family, Warne Family Charitable Foundation, Elizabeth McCoy, Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, Hyperbaric Therapy, Michael Reese Enterprises, Microsemi, Stephen Murray, and of course our long relationship with Pacific Life Foundation. To everyone who helped us financially, we appreciate you believing in and supporting our mission.
Finally, to TACA families & friends – The hope I have for my child and all our children remain –Together, we will work towards the future and create positive outcomes for all our kids. Happy new year! Thank you for being a friend.
All my best for 2012 & beyond,
Lisa Ackerman – TACA Executive Director & Founding Board member
Mom to Jeff & Lauren, wife to Glen