by Lisa Ackerman
It’s the end of another year, 2014 is almost gone! Is it me or does it feel like only a short time ago was the 80’s? Ok, maybe not the 80’s, but time does seem to be moving faster these days.
As usual, TACA was a whirlwind of activity this past year; helping families, building relationships, and expanding our community. This could not have happened without the fantastic people dedicated to the TACA mission. Thank you all.
Since TACA’s beginnings 14 years ago, I have always sent out an end of year update. This year as usual, I would like to begin with a Jeff update—he is my TACA inspiration and keeps me going.
Jeff, now 17 years old, is a blessing to our family. He continues to make progress every year. Today, he is in a regular education 11th grade class. His strengths include Spanish, Science and an interest in biology. This year he is learning how to play the drums ran on the cross country team and loves to play golf. Jeff is still a few steps behind in reading comprehension, essay composition, abstract curriculum and math reasoning but works diligently to keep up. He always seems to rise to meet new challenges with a smile on his face and a positive attitude that inspires everyone around him – especially his mom.
Today is a big difference from where Jeff started. The professionals had dismal predictions for the future. I’m glad to share we didn’t believe them and held onto our dreams for our son. He has worked very hard to overcome many obstacles. One important lesson remains: Our kids need us to never give up. I love TACA families because they have hope and believe in a future for our all of our kids.
Now on to TACA 2015 and our 15th year! Here’s just a handful of program highlights over the past year:
- Our parent support team & volunteers responded to almost 36,000 calls (English and Spanish) for empowerment and support via phone, email and live chat. Another year’s record for TACA.
- Chapters & meetings: Our volunteer chapter leaders and key volunteers brought TACA’s mission to their community. TACA held an average of 60 meetings & coffee talks per month across the U.S.
- We distributed almost 3,000 Autism Journey Guides–free to families in need thanks to a special donor.
- 34 new articles were added to the TACA website. TACA receives an average of 85,000 unique visitors each month.
- TACA provided almost 80 medical, social skills and other community based grants.
- This year, TACA Mentors made 400 connections by supporting families needing assistance on their autism journey. This is another new record of families touched via the mentor program. TACA mentors in 7 languages.
- com had a record of 42 posts (including 19 guest posts from our Physician Advisory board) with almost 300,000 readers.
- Thousands of Facebook and Twitter posts including News stories, TACA family-friendly and allergen-free recipes, tips, and TACA stories posted daily.
This is only a portion of what TACA has accomplished in 2014. We will be publishing a full report in January. As 2014 comes to an end, TACA counts over 45,000 families affected by autism in its community. On average, TACA is providing support to almost 600 new families each month.
I know I have said thank you in general, but, I have some specific shout-outs for the TACA staff. Thank you to Jackie, Di, Stephanie, Mari, Moira, Holly, Julie, Laura, Maggie, Cindy, Janice, Nicole & Sim. Thank you to all the volunteers. Thank you to the best Board who serve, guide and fundraise to help make it all happen (Glen, Pat, Dan, Chad, Elizabeth & Robby.) A special, heartfelt thank you to our Volunteer Chapter Coordinators and Parent Mentors who serve selflessly. You are core to our mission of Families Helping Families and ensure that our programs reach many in local communities. TACA would be lost without this incredibly dedicated team of over 500 volunteers providing Real Help Now.
2014 was our 5th year for TACA’s Ambassadors and Physician Advisory Team. They 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.
In closing, this economy has affected TACA families and this foundation in a major way. All of us have learned to do MORE with LESS. As with all non-profits the economy has had an impact on donations. Despite this challenge, we have found ways to acquire help and continue providing our programs.
Much gratitude to the over 2,000 businesses and individuals that made donations in 2014. Our major donors include: Happy Family Brands, Boeing Community Employee Giving Fund, Dave & Buster’s, Oakley, Jack FM/KROQ, Kirkman Group, OC Community Foundation, Wal-Mart Foundation, Kohls, Hope4Hanna, Alderson Family Foundation, Bikram Yoga in Silverlake, Buchanan Street Children’s Charities, Enzymedica & Autism Hope Alliance, Volcom, Gladiator events with Dan “Nitro” Clark, Inhouse IT, Midwest Insurance, Mendability, Aronoff family, Hawaii Autism Foundation (Beautiful Son Foundation), The Carney Family, Elizabeth McCoy, Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation, The Allyn Foundation, Microsemi, Ready at Dawn, Cellpoint, Jimmies Golf, Whole Foods, Whitehouse & Schapiro, Oxyhealth, North Virginia Rabbit Run, Roadrunner Sports, Pacific Life Foundation, Allergan Foundation, Miracle Foundation Fund, Aspiriant Holdings, Nourish Life, Operation Jack, Master Supplements and countless others. To everyone who helped us financially, thank you for always believing and supporting our mission.
And to TACA families; I know services continue to evaporate and you are struggling more than ever before. TACA will be here for you. Please keep telling us your needs and we will do our best to help fight for your children.
In closing, the hope I have for my child and all our children remains –together, we will work towards the future and create positive outcomes for all of our kids. Thank you for being a friend to families living with autism.
Happy New Year!
All my best for 2015 & beyond,
Lisa Ackerman – TACA Executive Director & Founding Board member Mom to Jeff & Lauren, wife to Glen
P.S. We need additional support for 2014. If you have a friend that would like to make a donation in your family’s honor please help https://www.tacanow.org/ways-to-help/donate/.