Tamera Leighton, incoming board chair at Redwood Coast Regional Center, shared: “People with developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, and down syndrome aren’t receiving the critical services they need during the shelter in place. Many of these services are being offered only by video, and for those that can’t afford a digital device, they no longer have access to these services.” The 173 devices purchased for Mendocino County residents will reconnect them. “These services are core to the basic progress that our people strive to make,” Leighton says.

In supporting this effort to purchase devices for developmentally disabled residents, not only are we ensuring that their services can continue but also supporting their emotional and mental health by helping to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. “Those of us with tablets are already doing things through facetime or zoom, allowing us to feel connected to the larger world outside our homes,” Leighton says. “My adult son Colin has autistic disorder and even though he loves to shop he is unable to tolerate wearing a mask, forcing him to stay home. As a result, he is missing that social connection he usually gets from shopping, and is fortunate to have a device that allows him to reconnect on a social level, as well as resume services. For the people with developmental disabilities who need tablets and can’t afford them, we are helping them stay in touch with the world.”

With grant funding from the COVID-19 Relief Fund, designed to support basic needs of individuals in Mendocino County, we were able to support Redwood Coast Regional Center in purchasing devices for our county’s residents with the greatest need. This fund was made possible by the generosity of our donors, including Jim and Arlene Moorehead, the MLH Fund, Sonoma Clean Power, Savings Bank of Mendocino County, the Harold and Vivienne Henderson Fund, the Candelaria Fund, the DeLucia Family Fund, the Poseley Family, the George and Ruth Bradford Foundation, Harvest Market, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with our many local donors.

While we do not know the future of this pandemic or how long we’ll remain home, we know we can still look out for our neighbors and friends in need. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, 173 individuals in Mendocino County will be able to connect once again. As so many of us are already aware, these digital connections are a lifeline to the outside world.