WINSTON-SALEM—ABC of NC, the area’s only comprehensive provider of specialized autism services, announces a $100,000 award from the John William Pope Foundation. The grant supports the establishment of the Joy W. Pope Life Skills Center, located in the newly established SECU Autism Clinic at ABC of NC.
ABOVE PHOTO: John Hood, president of the John William Pope Foundation (left of sign), joins Selene Johnson, executive director of ABC of NC (right of sign), Stephanie Reitz, ABC of NC board member (second from the left), Casey Raymer, ABC of NC’s interim director of development (kneeling), and ABC of NC program staff and clients, to celebrate the opening of the Joy W. Pope Life Skills Center at the SECU Autism Clinic at ABC of NC. Photo Credit: Jasmine Henderson
The SECU Autism Clinic houses the Joy W. Pope Life Skills Center, a unique collection of community skills labs featuring a mock apartment/hotel room, grocery store, hair salon, doctor’s office, and dentist’s office, which allow individuals with autism to practice critical vocational, independent living, and community access skills.
The Life Skills Center is designed to address a long list of life skills issues associated with the deficits of autism spectrum disorder (autism/ASD). The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism. Everyday activities such as dressing, going to a retail establishment, or getting a haircut can pose enormous problems for families of a child with autism, making ordinary pursuits or outings exceedingly problematic. The Life Skills Center provides evidence-based programming to help children thrive in our community.
In addition to generous capital and programmatic support from the John William Pope Foundation, the Life Skills Center was made possible through in-kind donations from community partners including Dewey’s Bakery (café); Daly Hotel Management (mock apartment/hotel); Food Lion (mock grocery store); Great Clips (mock hair salon); Wake Forest Baptist Health (mock doctor’s office); and Spangler, Rohlfing & Lambert Pediatric Dentistry (mock dentist’s office.)
“The founding of the Joy W. Pope Life Skills Center brings us closer to creating a community consistent with both John William Pope’s and ABC of NC’s visions where all North Carolinians have the freedom to live, work, and thrive in settings that offer possibilities for self-reliance and success,” said Selene Johnson, ABC of NC’s executive director.
The Joy W. Pope Memorial Grant program was first introduced in 2016 to recognize innovative projects and ideas from across the state. Each year over 75 organizations apply to receive the one-time grant. Previous human-services recipients include Safelight Family Services in Hendersonville, Wesley Shelter in Wilson, and Haywood Pathways Center in Waynesville.
The grant is offered through the John William Pope Foundation, a Raleigh grant maker established by the late retail entrepreneur John William, his wife Joy W. Pope, and their family. The foundation’s giving spans broad categories including nonprofit public policy research, education, human services, and the arts with the goal to improve the wellbeing of North Carolinians. Since 1986, the Pope Foundation has given more than $155 million. For more information about the foundation and its grants, visit www.jwpf.org.
“I personally know families dealing with autism, and given the 30-percent increase in diagnosis of autism in our country, the work of ABC of NC is extremely important,” said Pope Foundation Chairman Art Pope. “Their new life-skills center will provide children and families with opportunities to live their lives more fully.”
The 26,000-square-foot SECU Autism Clinic and 3,500-square-foot Burress Activity Center joined ABC of NC’s existing education center in July 2018, establishing a state-of-the-art autism services campus designed to meet the unique needs of children, adolescents, and young adults with autism. The comprehensive autism services campus provides increased capacity, shorter wait times for autism diagnosis, and greater access to therapeutic interventions. As a result of the expansion, ABC of NC is on track to double its services capacity — from 350 clients from 18 North Carolina counties to more than 700 — and hire 40 employees.
Along with contributions from many generous individuals, this project has received support from Allegacy Federal Credit Union, BB&T Foundation, Cannon Foundation, First Tennessee Foundation, the Golden LEAF Foundation, Novant Health, Reynolds American Foundation, Richard J. Reynolds, III and Marie M. Reynolds Foundation, SECU Foundation, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and The Winston-Salem Foundation.
The architect for the construction project was Steele Group Architects of Winston-Salem. The construction company for the project was Samet Corporation of Greensboro. The design firm for the project was ID Collaborative of Greensboro.
Founded in 2002, ABC of NC is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of diagnostic, therapeutic, and educational services to children with autism spectrum disorder (autism/ASD) and their families. ABC of NC is committed to providing the latest evidence-based interventions; ensuring service accessibility to individuals from any economic background; offering support and hope to families; and advocating for inclusion and acceptance. To learn more, please visit www.abcofnc.org.