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 1 - November 2017
In This Issue:


Letter from the CEO

Welcome to our first quarterly e-newsletter - The Via Vanguard! We specifically chose this name because Via is always at the forefront of new ideas. We pride ourselves on always searching for new and innovative ways to fulfill our mission of helping individuals with special needs achieve greater self-sufficiency and lead richer lives.

We are excited to expand our communications throughout the year to keep you connected as a part of the Via family. We will update you on current and future programs and events, get to know featured Via staff, and we will answer your pressing questions with our Ask Via feature.

We welcome ideas and contributions! Please let us know what YOU would like for us to report on. Via is and always will be a collaboration with our families and supporters. We look forward to working with you more!

Leslie Davis, CEO


Goals for Kids
We are so excited to announce that Via Services is one of the beneficiaries for the Sharks Foundation's Goals for Kids Program. Thanks to Taube Philanthropies and SWENSON, $1,000 will be donated for every goal scored by the Sharks during the 2017 NHL season.

First Step New Office Location
Due to popular demand from our private pay, Kaiser, other insurance carriers, and San Andreas Regional Center clients, we will be expanding our reach in the Bay Area. We are pleased to announce the opening of a Santa Cruz satellite office. 

Our newest site is conveniently located at 542 Ocean Street, Suite L in Santa Cruz and it offers speech therapy and related services to individuals ages birth - 18 years, as well as AAC assessments.

Biggest Ever Travel Camp
Travel camp was first launched in 2014 as a way for 3:1 participants in our Via West and Altitude programs to gain more independence while fostering self-confidence and self-sufficiency by experiencing day and overnight trips off campus.

Our upcoming November 3rd travel camp to Universal Studios in Hollywood is not only the furthest we have traveled, but it boasts the highest enrollments of any of our previous programs.  We have one more upcoming travel camp in February and we anticipate that registration will break records. "I cannot say enough about the feeling of independence that travel gives," explains CEO Leslie Davis on the important this opportunity provides. "When you add the camaraderie of group interaction, travel camp is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience."


Our 5th Annual Fall Festival was held on Saturday, October 7th at Via West Campus. Attendees enjoyed a haunted house, pumpkin patch, petting zoo, magic show, live music, BBQ lunch, and more. Thank you to everyone who helped to support this great annual event.

Click here to view photos.

The holidays are upon us and we have two special respite sessions to celebrate in December. Each year, we teach our participants the importance of giving back by stuffing and decorating stockings for a local shelter. How can you help? Bring your extra, unused toiletries to either of our locations by December 7th!

Click here to learn more.

Tickets are now on sale for the 23rd Annual Via Ball - Via's most important night of the year. This year's Gatsby themed Gala will take place on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Villa Ragusa in downtown Campbell. 100% of the proceeds go towards the programs of Via Services - Altitude, Via 
West, and First Step

Click here for tickets.


Featured Employee: Yvonne Carter

Yvonne is the Office Manager for Via Services. She supports and oversees all front office operations to assist with First Step, Via West, and Altitude program goals as well as Via's overall mission. She collaborates with the First Step Director and the Vice President to supervise and support all administrative staff and all day-to-day office functions.

Yvonne has been with Via for 13.5 years and before that, she worked in the administrative field for the U.S. Government and l arge corporate companies. "Via has honestly been the best place to work for," says Yvonne. "I love and admire the people I work with, and I truly enjoy coming to work."

Yvonne's managers agree that she is incredibly dedicated to Via and its mission and that her extensive knowledge of the company is highly valued and irreplaceable.

When she isn't hard at work, Yvonne loves to go out with her friends and family - her 4 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 5 grandsons. She enjoys experiencing new things like dancing, trying different and fun food, places, and activities.


When is the best time to start thinking about a special needs trust for my child? - Bryan C.
Answered by special guest Lorna J. Drope from Special Needs Law Group

It's never too early to start planning for the future of a child with special needs.

A special needs trust is an important part of a parent's estate plan to ensure a child's eligibility for government assistance is not jeopardized. A bequest, or gift, of as little as $2,000 could cause a child to be ineligible for certain needs-based government benefits, such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medi-Cal. A special needs trust will allow a parent to accumulate and transfer wealth to benefit a child with special needs without affecting government benefits.

Not sure if your child will need a special needs trust? No worries, the trust can be drafted with flexibility to terminate in the future if the trust is no longer needed.

For more information, please email Lorna J. Drope.

Do you have any tips for making the holidays easier for my child with autism? - Kelly M.
Answered by Shannon McDaniel, Advancement Director, Via Services and mother of special needs child

The holidays are quickly upon us and with that comes added stress, busy schedules, family visits, travel, etc. The schools take extended breaks during the holidays so it leaves you in the position to either work from home or ensure that you have proper coverage. This can be particularly stressful if you are a parent of a child with special needs, as you now need to find an individual who is qualified to care for your child at home. I am a mother of a son with cerebral palsy and autism, and I understand how difficult it can be to get through the holiday season. Here are some of my tips:

  • During your child's time off from school, try and work on some of the fun goals that have been outlined in his/her IEP. Go on fun outings to restaurants where your child can work on self-sufficiency skills by ordering his/her own food. Work on engaging activities like baking cookies or decorating holiday cards.
  • If you're traveling, read books about travel to your child to help him/her better understand the mode of travel and how it is a safe place. Visit the local airport to watch planes take off and land.
  • Most importantly, relax and enjoy the season! When you are stressed, your child is stressed, so try to relish the time you get to spend with your family and friends.

My child attends Via West Day Camp - how can I work with him so that he can eventually spend an overnight there? - Jorge D.
Answered by Leslie Davis, CEO (and former Director of Via West), Via Services

We are so happy that your child is already part of the Via West family. Starting in our day program is the best way to prepare - he is already building independence, making friends and learning valuable skills.

We suggest that you gradually increase the number of hours that he attends with the day program - please remember that your son can arrive as early as 9am and stay until 8pm. Lengthening his time here will make him feel more at ease. Begin preparing your son for his overnight at home by possibly inviting a friend for a sleepover so that he is in the same room with a peer. You can also have him stay at a grandparent's house for "practice."

Use social stories to go over the entire overnight camp routine - we can help you with this. Feel free to visit after 8:30pm so he can see what the lodge looks like closer to bedtime. When talking about packing, assure him he can bring his favorite blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, or all of the above.

Lastly, let him know that you are only a phone call away and that if he felt he could not handle the whole night, we would most definitely contact you. We want you and your family to think as Via West as a safe, happy place that all of you can count on. We will be with you every step of this journey.

Want us to answer your question? Email us and your question could be featured in a future newsletter!

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