In my continued quest to learn more about how the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund has granted much needed dollars to local nonprofits in Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding areas, I spent the morning on the 7th of June, meeting with the Executive Director, Lora Carpenter, of Beyond the Spectrum, a nonprofit serving children with Autism, Down syndrome and other related developmental diagnosis and their families. I wanted to get a better idea of how the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund has helped Beyond the Spectrum. In 2020, Lakewood Ranch Community Fund was able to help provide take home technology for the families and children and some added support through grant money for COVID relief. The take home technology was much needed during a time when schools were scrambling to try and teach children at home vs. in a school setting. Now imagine if your son/daughter has Autism or Down syndrome, and now were responsible for all of your son or daughter’s education. While it was so nice to see how we were able to help Lora and her crew, I learned even more about some of the other programs that Beyond the Spectrum is currently doing.
Lora talked to me about the need for more space. They currently have over 90 children enrolled in the school and another 30 on a waitlist. The need has grown so much over the last several years with the school being instrumental in the community bringing about more awareness around Autism and the Down syndrome community. There are some possibilities of expansion on the horizon so hopefully they can continue to fulfill the needs of the community.
Lora talked to me about the need for adult services in the community and how they are using the knowledge from their prior partnership with the Patterson Foundation to create a business to have earned income coming back into the agency. I like to call this a social enterprise. As many of you know, I am very passionate about social enterprises and after talking to Lora, I could tell she was very passionate about their next steps. This business would give the young adults an ability to work and earn an income and work skills. With the help of the Patterson Foundation, the organization’s ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) clinic is also another social enterprise that has really helped in supporting and growing Beyond the Spectrum.
Watch the video here:
While there are so many great things this organization is doing, I couldn’t possibly list everything in this blog. I highly suggest you visit their website at www.beyondthespectrum.org to learn more. As far as my journey with learning about another awesome nonprofit, it was another unforgettable experience. The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund helps so many ways in the community of Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding areas, but until you get to see and hear about the impact that these nonprofits are creating, you can’t truly appreciate it.