Via Services is a private, independent non-profit that has been dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and special needs achieve greater self-sufficiency and lead richer lives since 1945.
The Via Vanguard
Issue 7 - April 2019
In This Issue:


Letter from the CEO


I am the new Interim Chief Executive Officer at Via Services. Leslie has returned from her maternity leave, which resulted in beautiful twins, to focus on her new role as Vice President of Advancement and sales. Amy has returned to her role as Director of First Step. If you are curious about my background, I started my career as a speech pathologist, then became a special education teacher of children with multiple disabilities. I have spent most of the last 30+ years working in and with nonprofit organizations in leadership positions, Interim positions, consulting roles, and/or on Boards of Directors. Many of these are organizations whose missions are focused on individuals with disabilities: Project HIRED, Hope Services, Community Gatepath, SF Goodwill, SF Vocational Services, Easter Seals of the Bay Area, and most recently Helpers Community. I have also served in leadership roles on the Boards of Hope Services and TransAccess/ExpandAbility. 

I am so excited about our wonderful services and camp experiences that are available to so many in our area. You may be excited to know that there are some program expansions going on: First Step is expanding and now working with children on both sides of the hill, summer is approaching with all of our camps scheduled and plans made, and we have several other new activities as well. 

I look forward to meeting many of you at our upcoming very special events: the 3rd Annual Poker Tournament on May 2nd and the 2019 Charity Golf Classic on June 7th.  Follow us on Facebook  and Instagram to stay connected on all of our events.

I am already enjoying working with the Via Services team, partnership organizations, and families. I welcome calls, emails, and visits from you as well as meeting our stakeholders and friends at our upcoming events and at Via West. 

Jan Cohen, Interim CEO

3rd Annual Via Services Poker Tournament

Join us on Thursday, May 2, 2019 for a Texas hold 'em style competition at the Palto Alto Elks Lodge - The Event Center. Come have a fun night playing cards, having a few drinks, and meeting new people all while supporting Via Services! All skill levels are welcome, and we will have novice tables available.

The evening will include hors d'oeuvres and carving stations, alcoholic beverages for purchase, 50/50 raffle, and a grand prize Carnival Cruise for 2 to Mexico (airfare is included). All of the proceeds will directly benefit Via Services.

Join us on Friday, June 7, 2019 for a 4-man team scramble, shotgun start golf tournament at Summitpointe Golf Club. All of the proceeds will directly benefit Via Services.

The day's events will include a hot breakfast, margarita and "Jack is Back" whiskey holes, contests, exclusive prizes for the top 3 winning foursomes, silent auction, and a hosted bar and buffet following the tournament.


Our Campers Need Your Help!
Summer is just around the corner, and many of you are planning your favorite trips to the beach, Disney World, Europe. For the majority of our Via West and Altitude participants, their trip to camp is the only one they will get. Via West IS their Disney World, Altitude IS their Europe, and the field trips we take during those sessions are integral to the feelings of freedom and independence that a vacation can bring.

As prepare to take your own vacations, we ask that you consider making a donation to help our campers take theirs. Your support will enable us to make the most out of our field trips so that we can provide the best experience for the kids and adults that come to us for Via West and Altitude. 

First Step Collaboration 
The pilot program that First Step began in August of 2018 is really taking off. We are providing on-site therapeutic and educational services at three different site within the Diocese of San Jose schools. All three sites now have a waitlist.

We are currently serving over 50 students, kindergarten - 8th grade, and the demand is high. Many of these students do not typically have access to these services and they rely on scholarships to support this program. 

Camp Counselors Needed
Via West and Altitude are seeking dedicated, hard-working, and caring individuals who want to help serve the special needs population. Our counselors work in a hands-on, fully immersive setting with our participants.

We have opportunities for the upcoming summer as well as the fall and spring respite season. Benefits include room and board during sessions worked, potential tuition reimbursement, and a possible commitment bonus. We also have a referral program. Please contact Jennifer Jung for more information regarding our referral incentives.

Join the camp family and see why staff consistently say that this is the most rewarding job they have ever had.

Via West and Altitude 2019 Summer
Our summer season kicks off on May 29th, and we have so many exciting offerings for kids, teens, young adults, and adults this year. Click here for the full registration brochure. Make sure to register soon as a lot of the sessions have already reached maximum capacity. 

Young Adults and Adults Ages 16+
Knights & Princesses, May 29-June 4 WAITLIST ONLY
Boogie on the Bayou, June 12-18 
PCH Travel Camp, June 21-23  
VW Chillim' and Grillin' Block Party, July 5-9 WAITLIST ONLY
Forrest Gump, August 16-18

Kids, Teens, and Young Adults Ages 5-22
Paw Patrol: First Responders, June 7-9 WAITLIST ONLY
Beat the Heat, June 26-July 2 WAITLIST ONLY
Paint the Town Neon, July 24-28 WAITLIST ONLY
Pixar Land, July 31-August 6 WAITLIST ONLY
Animal Planet, August 9-13 WAITLIST ONLY

Altitude Kids, Teens, and Young Adults ages 9-22
Mad Science, June 21-23
Tahoe Travel Camp, June 21-23
Sleepaway, July 12-21
Getaway Overnight, July 17-21
Adventures in Life Planning, July 17-21
Mini Altitude, July 17-21 

We also have science camps available this spring for district special day classes and non-public schools. Learn more here.


Featured Employee: Rick Weber

Rick is the Associate Director of Facility Management for Via Services. He facilitates all property maintenance, building projects, and contracted work at Via West Campus and at the Via Services Park Ave office. He joined Via in 2003 and has worked primarily at Via West Campus for the past 16 years.

Prior to his years at Via, Rick spent his career in the building trades, facility maintenance, and property management. He loves the history and mission of Via and says that he greatly admires the staff, the families and campers we serve, and the donors.

Irshad Fardan, Director of Via West and Altitude, knows that Rick is a great resource for Via and says "I can't imagine our department without him or anyone else doing his job."

Outside of Via, Rick loves to go to the movies, go sport fishing, hang out with his girlfriend and family, and shoot pool.


I am struggling to move my 23 year old adult son to a living environment other than our home. Do you have any suggestions of how to make this transition?  - Howard T.
Answered by Leslie Davis, VP of Advancement and Sales, Via Services

We completely empathize with your situation - it is such a big transition, a decision that is very hard on you and your entire family. As we all know, there are a lot of areas where our family members can and will thrive outside of our parental care. But, how do you find them? And how do you avoid the living situations that are simply not an appropriate choice for one reason or the other?

Always remember that you know your child BETTER THAN ANYONE else. You know their likes, dislikes, needs, wants, abilities, areas that require more assistance, etc. Also remember that these areas change as they age and develop. This first move is the hardest and it probably is not the last move so concentrate on what they need now and for the next couple of years rather than thinking of this as a lifetime choice, despite how much we and they do not like change.

Ask the typical questions. How much supervision do they need? What ratio is needed and when? What is the activity level that works best for them? What location works best - city, less populated, etc. Keep in mind that employees in these living situations - supported living, skilled nursing, licensed group homes, planned inclusive community, etc., have very high turnover. You may fall in love with a particular caregiver during the initial visits but these employees may or may not be there in a year or even a couple of months. Instead, look at who is running these homes or groups of homes. Look at their best practices. Look at their funding options, and talk, talk, talk with actual references. Speak with families that are currently utilizing them. Speak with families who did, but are no longer using them. Converse with your regional center advisers, scour all of the blogs you can find - you need as much information as possible.

Many providers will allow trial stays. Take advantage of this if you feel that your son can handle it. Or if he cannot, ask if you can do the trial stay yourself without him. Do drop in visits before you decide, at various times of the day. Accompany them to their outings, watch how the transportation works, view their nursing skills in action and the medication distribution if you can. Ask them potential scenario questions - you know how to do this - you have had to advocate for your son for 23 years now, and you always will.

Lastly, continue to plan for your and his future - consult with a professional so that you have everything covered for him whether he lives with you or not. And always remember, that whatever you decision you make, the decision is out of love for him and you are doing what you think is best for him - this decision is different for EVERYONE - some can stay at home for longer and others simply can't. Your bond is still just as strong if he is under your roof or in the next town over. You will make sure of that.

My 22 month old really isn't talking at all. Should I be concerned? At what point should I go to the doctor for a speech referral? - Stacy C.
Answered by Amy Churchill, M.A., CCC-SLP, First Step Director, Via Services

There are many critical milestones during the early stages of a child's development. It is important to note that there is a typical range of development, and some children meet their milestones within this range. For example. walking typically begins between 10-16 months of age, and this is often when first words develop as well. 

A child at 18 months should be saying between 10-20 word approximations. At 24 months, a child should have at least 50 single word approximations and using some two word phrases (ex. mama up, no dada, more please). If your child is not using any words, it is important to speak with your pediatrician for an Early Start referral as early as 16 months of age. You can request a free evaluation in Santa Clara County for children birth- 3 years old through the Early Start program by calling 1-800-404-5900.

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