It was a magical evening for Autism Cares Foundation!
The recent 7th Annual Gala & Auction, at the Spring Mill Manor was an elegant sold-out event with nearly 300 supporters of the group, including many dignitaries and other special guests.
There were also several major announcements in between dining, dancing, and the silent and live auctions that were held to raise money for social programs and life enrichment opportunities for local children and adults with autism and their families.
Master of Ceremonies Jim Donovan, the new morning news anchor and award-winning consumer reporter at CBS3, warmly welcomed all of the guests and introduced Co-Founders Frank and Linda Kuepper, the hosts for the special event.
“It is my pleasure to be here this evening. It is clear that this is a labor of love for the Linda and Frank Kuepper — the heart and soul of the Foundation,” Donovan said. “As a consumer reporter I give my stamp of approval for everyone to overspend this evening. It takes money to provide the 150 programs that ACF runs each year.”
Special guests included: State Rep. Tom Murt, Miss New Jersey USA Jessielyn Palumbo, Miss Teen Bucks County Brooke Calle, and her sister, and Miss Liberty Bell Ashley Calle.
Jill Schweizer, a noted local educator with 33 years of experience, was honored with the CARES Award. Schweizer, the supervisor of special education for the Central Bucks School District, was given the award for her support, commitment and dedication to the special needs community. The award itself was a unique painting made by Mitchell Bowyer, an adult with autism and a gifted artist.
There were also partnership awards given to Fitlife Performance, Kids 4 Community, and Mark Klein, former superintendent of the Council Rock School District.
The Autism Cares Foundation has recently become a licensed service provider for adult services for everyone with special needs at its Resource Center in Southampton. It was announced at the Gala that Beth Garrison is the new CEO of the Adult Services Division and Board member Mary Pagel is the new program specialist.
The Autism Cares Foundation’s goal: to have its exciting new program for day habilitation services and pre-vocational job skills to begin by late July, and expand its service offerings from this starting point.
Also, it was announced at the Gala that Managing Director Kim Smith will lead the charge for expansion as the Foundation begins new chapters in the Tri-State area and beyond.
During the Gala, the Autism Cares Foundation unveiled plans and showed architectural renderings for its future – The Center for Excellence and Life Enrichment Community. This unique facility will consist of job training, employment opportunities, recreation, a hub for resources, independent living and, eventually, long term placement — a place where adults with autism will call home.
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the sponsors, donors, and volunteers for supporting our families, and making our dreams become a reality,” Linda Kuepper said. “We could not do this without all of you!”