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 2 - February 2018
In This Issue:


Letter from the CEO

Happy 2018! We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season, and we are so excited to let you know about some of the amazing events we have coming up this year.

We are going to kick off 2018 with our biggest fundraising event of the year - the Annual Via Ball! This year's Gatsby-themed Gala will take place on February 24th at Villa Ragusa. Make sure to read our Events feature below for all of the details. We are also excited to announce that we will be reprising the Poker Tournament in May and the Charity Golf Classic in June. Follow us on Facebook to stay connected on all of our events.

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


Giving Tuesday
Thank you so much to everyone who supported Via on Giving Tuesday and during the month of December. We were able to exceed our goal of $52,000.

These funds will allow us to update our Via West Campus with new lighting and install a full PA sound system with speakers that will reach the entire campus. Given the size of Via West, this is so important as it allows us instant access to our staff and participants, ensuring the safety of everyone.

Amphitheater Completion
In 2016, we raised funds on Giving Tuesday to renovate the amphitheater at Via West Campus. We are pleased to announce that phase 1 of the renovations is nearing completion and the amphitheater will be ready for our summer programs.

We increased the seating section to allow for wheelchairs. We also renovated the existing narrow wooden benches with safer, more comfortable seating for campers during talent shows, plays, and musical events.

The Mercury News Wishbook
Thanks to donations from the Mercury News Wishbook, Via will be launching a free monthly Parents Night Out for First Step clients and their siblings.

Parents Night Out will be an opportunity for our families to have a night off where their children are engaged in a fun, safe program that includes games, food, and activities. To register for the first Parents Night Out on March 16th, please contact Amy Churchill at 408-243-7861, ext. 233.

23rd Annual Via Ball

Join us on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Villa Ragusa from 5:30pm-10:30pm for the 23rd Annual Via Ball. This is our most important night of the year as 100% of the proceeds go towards our programs - First Step, Via West, and Altitude.

This year's Gatsby-themed gala will feature dinner by Villa Ragusa, live music from Velvet Plum, exciting silent and live auctions featuring one-of-a-kind items, and more! Tickets and tables are available now.


Featured Employee: Maggie Newman

Maggie is an Occupational Therapist for the First Step team at Via Services. She provides Early Start assessments as well as treatment for children birth to 14 years old. She also provides our First Step staff with mentorships and in-service training on reflective practice. She was presented with an award at the 2016 SARC Service Above Self Dinner for her outstanding service and dedication to the special needs community.

Maggie has been with Via for 12 years and before that, she worked in a variety of pediatric settings including schools, clinics, and a home-based private practice. "This is a great team to work with," says Maggie. "We partner in what we do, share ideas, and support each other."

Amy Churchill, First Step Director, praises Maggie for her compassion, hard work, and dedication to Via and the families that we serve.

When she isn't hard at work, Maggie loves to cook, garden, and go for hikes in the beautiful Bay Area hills.


I keep reading about how horrible the flu is this year and I'm worried about my son with severe special needs. What do we need to know?  - Caitlin K.
Answered by Sandy Keefe, MSN, RN, Manager of Grants, Research & Healthcare, Via Services and mother of special needs child 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, children and adults with neurodevelopmental, physical or intellectual disabilities face a higher risk of flu-related complications than their typically-developing peers. That information, coupled with an unfortunate personal experience with influenza when I was a nursing student, makes me hyper aware of the need for a yearly flu vaccination for my 26-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. With her asthma and altered immune system, Allie doesn't need even mild complications such as ear or sinus infections, and serious infections like pneumonia and bronchitis inevitably put her in the hospital. 

Of course, we try to avoid a case of the flu upfront by good hand washing, avoiding people with obvious flu symptoms, eating healthy, and getting plenty of rest. If Allie did develop flu symptoms, I'd contact her doctor immediately for a Tamiflu prescription. Effective only during the first 48 hours of flu, this medication makes the coughing, sore throat, fatigue, fever, body aches, and other flu symptoms less severe and shortens recovery by 1-2 days. 

My twins have their IEP coming up soon. Do you have any tips for making the process easier? - Jackson A.
Answered by Amy Churchill, M.A., CCC-SLP, Director of First Step, Via Services

The IEP (Individual Education Program) process does not have to be a painful one. Here are some trips and tricks for preparing and attending IEPs:
  • Consider the school environment from your child's perspective.
  • Be your child's voice-champion them and their needs.
  • Consider their successes and challenges.
  • Provide examples of successes at home that can be related (e.g. homework,  communication with teacher, etc.).
  • Request reports, draft IEP (including progress and goals) ahead of time (at least 5 days) - this will assist you with developing questions.
  • Send your questions to the IEP team ahead of time as well (1 day).
  • Make a list of items you want to discuss at the IEP and check off as they are completed.
  • Remember that the IEP team acts in the best interest of your child's academic and educational needs.
  • You have a right to ask questions, and/or disagree.
  • Include family or whoever you would like. You are entitled to take a support person with you if you wish.
  • If you have asked for information ahead of time, then ask for verbal summary of progress and proposed goals. Time is valuable for all team members. This information can often be repetitive and not necessary to review over and over again. 

My daughter has autism and a lot of sensory issues. What are some fun activities in the Bay Area that you think would be good for her? - Debra P.
Answered by Katie Gilbreth, Community Relations Manager, Via Services

There are so many wonderful options for families with special needs in the Bay Area! Here are just a few:

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

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