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Autism fundraiser to take place in Holyoke

By Debbie Gardner
Assistant Managing Editor
HOLYOKE— It's a night of dinner and dancing for a very good cause.
On Jan. 22, Community Resources for People with Autism will sponsor its second annual Stepping Out for Autism fundraiser at the Delaney House.
The festivities kick off with hors d'oeuvers at 6 p.m., followed by dinner, dancing to the music of the British Invasion band, Union Jack, a live auction and raffle.
Auction items will include an overnight ski getaway with lift tickets and a gift certificate from Competitive Edge, two round trip Southwest Airline tickets with no blackout dates, a scenic flight from Lyons Aviation and much more. Tickets are $40 per person. Proceeds will help support the services and education the non-profit provides to children diagnosed with autism and their families.
"We're trying to raise funds to supplement our budget, which has been cut by 57 percent," Board of Directors member Jill Scibelli, said.
She said the recent cutbacks have forced the agency to drastically curtail critical help, such as direct home services to families. Without these services, Scibelli said, it's often very tough for families to cope with raising an autistic child.
Like many other public service agencies, Community Resources for People with Autism's parent organization, The Association for Community Living, has experienced funding cutbacks as the state's budget shrank during the recent economic downturn.
But that economic downturn hasn't been reflected in the request for services.
According to material provided by Community Resources for People with Autism, the number of families who have applied for help from the agency has actually doubled over the past four years.
The organization's mission statement says it strives to provide families with services such as a resource center and access to information specialists to help them better understand their child's condition and needs, referrals to services, a parent support group, access to autism specialists, flexible care and respite allocations, respite workers, training that allows the person with autism to better cope in the community and activities that help promote community inclusion for the person and his or her family.
For more information about Stepping Out for Autism, or to purchase tickets, visit www.communityresourcesforautism.org, or call 529-2428.