Executive Director, The HEAL Foundation
To assist individuals with autism and their families living on the First Coast.
HEAL, Healing Every Autistic Life, was founded in 2004. HEAL serves individuals with autism living in the greater Jacksonville area. There were essentially no programs or camps specifically for those with developmental disabilities such as autism. In 2007 HEAL began raising money and started collaborating with organizations across the greater Jacksonville area to start educational programs and camps for those with autism.
HEAL serves the five counties of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns. Since 2007 HEAL has given more than $1 million funding local camps, programs and enhancing special needs classrooms.
In April HEAL granted $40,000 to summer camps and programs targeted to children, teens and adults with Autism. The camps, which are tailored to the specific needs of the students, provide a fun, safe environment to learn. The camps also provide respite time for families at little to no cost.
Last fall, HEAL granted $35,000 to area schools to enhance educational equipment and for after-school programs, support groups and sports leagues.
Funding. Families who have a member with autism often spend thousands of dollars each year on out-of-pocket expenses to help their child. We try hard not to ask these families for their precious resources — time and money. HEAL always is trying to identify new donors and new volunteers who can help us help local families.
When families tell me how HEAL has helped them. It's easy to get choked up sometimes knowing that HEAL has made a difference here in Northeast Florida.
First experience with community service
I can remember dressing up in period costumes to volunteer at Wheatland, home of the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan. I'm not sure why, but I loved it.
Your job before HEAL
I did political fundraising for 15 years before I joined HEAL.
Sept. 2: Great Ponte Vedra Paddle, a paddleboard race for the serious and not-so-serious athletes.
Sept. 12-13: Annual HEAL Valley of Dreams at TPC Sawgrass.
We just had our 5th Annual First Coast Zoo Walk for Autism with a record-breaking 1,400 participants.