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 4 - August 2018
In This Issue:


Letter from the CEO

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our donors and supporters. You have stepped up so much this year, and I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your efforts.

We recently shared the story of Shayna with you. Shayna is a part of the Via West family and we asked for help to raise $10,000 to send other adults and children like her to Via West. We have now raised $7500 which will go a long way to ensuring that more families with special needs continue to receive the support, services, and programs that they all deserve and need.

As always, 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!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected with us all year round.

Leslie Davis, CEO


$18k from Charity Golf Classic
On June 8th, we had 66 golfers compete in the 2018 Charity Golf Classic to help us raise the most money in Via golf tournament history! 

Golfers enjoyed a shotgun style start, putting competition, contests for longest drive and closest to the pin, and a silent auction. We raised over $18k that will directly support our programs and add to the experiences of the over 4,000 families that we serve each year.

Open House at Via West
On June 9th, Via West hosted an Open House/Field Day that provided low-income families with an opportunity to see camp in action. This opportunity was funded by a grant from the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation.

Parents received individual assistance with funding options and applications for Foundation-funded scholarships while their children participated in art, music, and culinary activities.

AmazonSmile Contest
The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to charitable organizations, like Via, when customers shop on AmazonSmile. Simply click here to get started.

Now not only will Via benefit, but the more you shop, the greater your chances to win in our new monthly AmazonSmile contest. Each month, the 3 people with the most donations to Via will win!

AmazonSmile and the AmazonSmile logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates

6th Annual Fall Festival

Join us on Saturday, October 13, 2018 for the 6th Annual Fall Festival at Via West Campus. Admission is free and tickets will be available to purchase to use towards your favorite games, activities, food, beer, and wine!

Once again, we will have a $1,000 drawing, but this year, you can purchase your raffle tickets early! You do not have to be present to win. To pre-buy raffle tickets for the $1k prize, please call Nic Rodriguez at 408-243-7861, ext. 239.


Featured Employee: Sandy Keefe

Sandy is the Grants and Research Manager for Via Services. She researches and writes grants to financially support Via programs and services. She worked as the RN during Via West sessions for 9 years. She assumed the role of Associate Director and Health Care Manager in 2011 and then transitioned into her current role in 2014.

Prior to her years at Via, Sandy worked with individuals with specials needs and also as an RN at hospitals, home health, and case management. Sandy was originally introduced to Via when she brought her daughter Allie for a 3-day summer session, and she decided to volunteer as a nurse. "The strongest part of Via is the collaboration we have with families," says Sandy. "Via is a community for the families we serve, and I love this community!"

Leslie Davis, CEO, believes that Sandy is an integral part of the Via team and says that "we could not do what we do without her."

Outside of Via, Sandy loves to do activities with her daughter Allie who is 26 years old with Down syndrome and her grandson Logan who is 11 years old and has multiple learning disabilities.


How do I prep my son with ASD for back to school?  - Ashleigh C.
Answered by Sandy Keefe, MSN, RN, Manager of Research and Grants, Via Services

It's been a long, hot summer and now it's time to send our kids back to school. Everyone is excited (and a little anxious) about new classmates, a new teacher, and maybe even a new school. You've packed shiny new backpacks with the recommended supplies, stocked the pantry and fridge with healthy snacks, and added bus pick-up times to your calendar. Everything is ready-until the first morning wake-up!

After 26 years of special needs parenting, I've come up with some strategies that minimize those grumpy, whiny moments. First of all, I get up plenty early to shower, make a pot of coffee, and set out the yogurt, fruit, bread, granola, juices, and medications for everyone else. I take the time to think of something exciting and fun ahead for 11-year-old Logan in his Special Day Class-a field trip, his turn for the ball at recess, a new book he's reading-and a positive note for 26-year-old Allie and her Adult Day Program-going out to lunch, working at the nature center, or a dance session. Sitting on each bed for 5-10 minutes in turn, I give plenty of hugs and share those positive thoughts. Then it's on to family breakfast chatting about the upcoming day and moving on from there.

Going out to eat with my 6 year old with special needs is always a challenge. Do you have any tips for making restaurants a little easier? - Rebecca M.
Answered by Emily DiPiero, M.S., CC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist, Via Services

There are a few things you can do to prepare your child for going out to eat at a restaurant. We all like to know what is expected when we go somewhere new, and your child is no different! It can be helpful to use a social story to outline what is expected when we eat out, as well as prepare for possible challenges.  A visual schedule and visual supports can also be helpful to set expectations and offer choices. An example of a visual schedule for a restaurant may include the following:
1)      Go to restaurant
2)      Wait to be seated
3)      Sit down at table
4)      Wait for server to come
5)      Order food
6)      Wait for food to come
7)      Eat food
8)      Wait for others to finish eating
9)      Get ready to go home

As you can see, there is a LOT of waiting involved when you eat out, and it may be helpful to provide some "waiting choices" for your child (coloring, small puzzles, figurines, fidget toys, etc.) and possibly visuals to use to request these waiting choices. It may also be helpful to print out a menu or pictures of food choices ahead of time, so the food your child will be eating becomes a predictable part of this new routine.

How do I know if my young child has sensory processing issues? What exactly is sensory processing? - Doug I.
Answered by Amy Churchill, M.A., CC-CLP, Director, First Step Program, Via Services

Sensory processing is the ability for one to adequately take in their surrounding environment through their senses (e.g. sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, body awareness, and balance systems) and integrate/organize all these senses to create a functional response to their environment.

Below are some of the signs that indicate your child may have difficulties processing sensory information:

  • Resistant to grooming (e.g. brushing hair, trimming nails, etc.)
  • Resistant to wearing certain types of fabrics and/or clothing
  • Resistant to touching certain textures (e.g. sticky, wet, rough, etc.)
  • Mouthing items and/or constantly putting non-food items in mouth
  • Constantly touching items or people
  • Dislikes riding in car, motion sickness
  • Slumps at table or desk frequently, uses arms to prop body up
  • Seeks increased movement opportunities (e.g. pacing, spurts of running, rocking, spinning)
  • May avoid hugs and/or cuddling
  • May avoid the following activities: jumping, hopping, running, crawling, etc.
  • Constantly seek pressure to body (e.g. pushing themselves into others or objects)
  • Head banging, nail biting, finger sucking
There are several things you can do to help calm your child throughout the day or right before a challenging routine. These include:

  • Headphones, ear muffs, stretchy head band to pull over ears (these are good for sound sensitivities)
  • Vibrating toothbrush
  • "Burrito"/ "sandwich" game: Wrap in soft, warm blanket
  • Hold firmly for hug, arm squeezes
  • Massage
  • Weighted lap mat or blanket
  • Weighted backpack
  • Resistance games (e.g. theraputty, pop beads)
  • Burying under bean bags and/or pillows
  • Hand fidgets

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