January 31, 2012

POAC Gala 2012, a Call for Contributions

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:04 am by autismmommytherapist

(Gary Weitzen, Executive Director)

It’s a brisk, wintry Saturday evening. Feathers and fedoras abound for the “gangster ball” theme, drinks are flowing, and the driving beat of good tunes makes it impossible not to claim space on the dance floor. No, this is not a scene from Boardwalk Empire. It’s a sneak peak at the POAC (Parents of Autistic Children) Gala, which is celebrated annually at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club, and will take place this February 25th at 6:00 PM.

I will not being wearing a flapper dress. They are not that becoming when you’re short.

In a few weeks several hundred people will soon gather to support POAC, as they endeavor to raise money to support the multitude of programs they continually offer to those within the autistic community. These programs range from providing educational supports to parents, teachers, and school personnel, as well as offering recreational activities to children with autism and their siblings. POAC receives no state or federal funds, and its existence relies entirely upon private donations.

Most of these programs remain free to anyone who works with or loves a child with autism.

I can speak from personal experience about what POAC has meant to me, and to many families in the area. When we relocated back to New Jersey six years ago, our eldest child had only had his autism diagnosis for about a year. While living in the Washington, DC area I had struggled to find activities to do with my son. I also struggled to find free educational opportunities with which to enhance his in-home ABA program, the methodology many people use to instruct autistic children.

(Simone Tellini, Training Coordinator)

As soon as I found out about POAC I realized we immediately had access to a wonderful support group, a variety of free educational workshops, and recreational opportunities in an atmosphere that was always welcoming to my child. POAC gave me and my son an outlet on weekends, and through one of their fundraisers a few years ago at Rein Dancer Therapeutic Riding Center, they were instrumental in showing me my eldest’s love for all things equine as well.

Most importantly, POAC gave us a second family.

The price of a ticket to attend the gala is $150, but there are other ways to contribute as well. Each year at the Gala a silent auction is held, and POAC is in need of donations for this year’s fundraiser. The Gala committee also holds a gift auction and raffle as well, and POAC would greatly appreciate any contributions of business goods or services. Finally, another way to contribute would be to place an ad in the Journal that is distributed to all guests the night of the event.

Any contribution you or your company make would benefit children with autism and their families tremendously.

If you are interested in participating, donations can be brought to the POAC office, or will be picked up for you. Please contact POAC at:

1999 Route 88

Brick, NJ 08724

(732) 785-1099

Thank you so much!

March 23, 2011

POAC Walks for Autism

Posted in My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 10:34 am by autismmommytherapist

Well, I’ve managed to avoid doing this for an entire year, but here I go. Now I’m just another blogger hitting people up for money.

Yes, it’s for a good cause. And yes, you’ve heard me speak about this organization many, many times, in particular with the piece I wrote about the POAC (Parents of Autistic Children) gala (here) a few weeks back. It’s true, there are numerous wonderful autism agencies and organizations out there, many of whom are located right here in New Jersey. They all do great works, and a number of them Jeff and I open our wallets for (okay, Jeff does, I’m not exactly a “big earner” these days). I am grateful for all they accomplish, both to those who are local, and to those who are nationwide.

But I admit, POAC has my heart.

It’s not just that every dollar raised for them stays right here in the Garden State. It’s not simply that they’ve trained thousands of law enforcement personnel, and on the off chance I might need one some day, I’d be grateful if they comprehended why my oldest son might not be answering their questions verbally. I don’t just have a crush on them because all of their seminars and programs are free of charge, nor do I like them solely because they are the largest provider of free autism trainings for educators in the entire state (once a teacher, always a teacher).

The real reason I love them is because for the last five years, they’ve given me and Justin something to do on the weekends for free. Yes, I am that easily pleased.

The lion’s share of POAC’s funding comes from four walk-a-thons they hold in the spring, conducted in as many different regions of the state. You can read about the events (here), and if you’re so inclined, it’s really easy to make a donation. Creating an entire team for a walk isn’t necessary.

But if you want to, we’ll cheer you on. And if you just want to come out and join us with your presence, we’ll gladly take that support as well.

On behalf of my boys, and all children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey, the volunteers of POAC thank you!