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 5 - November 2018
In This Issue:


Letter from the CEO

I am so excited to introduce myself to you! Many of you know that Leslie Davis has recently accepted the position of Vice President of Advancement & Sales so that she can spend more time with her family, and I am honored that the Board unanimously appointed me to serve as the Interim CEO.

The Fall Festival was a wonderful event for me to begin to get to know you - our incredible families and supporters. I would love to invite you to a meet and greet coffee after the holidays in January so that we can continue to work together to support Via and our community.

We have some amazing things coming up here in the next few months. Our annual Via Ball fundraiser will be held on February 9th, and by popular demand, we are bringing back early bird ticket  sales! Giving Tuesday kicks off on November 27th, so now is a great time to look into corporate matches for your end-of-the-year giving.

Via will always place the highest value on you and your ideas. Please let us know if there is anything that you would like to contribute or report to us. We look forward to maintaining a partnership with you!

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

Amy Churchill, Interim CEO


Giving Tuesday
#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year's Giving Tuesday will take place on November 27th and will kick off the giving season by inspiring people to collaborate and give back.

Our goal this year is to raise $67,000 to install 30 new cameras, as well as an automatic entry gate with an intercom that will ring to the office, kitchen, and the director's home. This will allow us to keep our campus secure, our campers protected, and it will enable us to shelter in place during emergencies.

Xilinx, Amazon, Rebuilding Together Partner with Via
Xilinx, Amazon, and Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley are the latest corporations to partner with Via through our volunteer work program. Click the learn more link below to find out how your company can become a part of this program.

On October 26th, 75 volunteers from Xilinx joined us at Via West Campus to build new storage for participants, re-stain fences, paint cabins, patch the road, plant, and more.

65 volunteers from Amazon and Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley met at Via West Campus to stain the main deck, reconstruct planter boxes, paint fences, stain picnic tables, and more.

First Step Collaboration with Diocese of San Jose Schools
First Step is now working very closely with the Diocese of San Jose schools to provide on-site therapeutic and educational services. This new collaboration began in August with the start of the new school year.

Our pilot program is currently providing services to 3 sites with the goal to expand to 5 regional locations in the next 3 years. We are looking to provide services throughout targeted clusters from the South Bay to Palo Alto that will best benefit the student population.

24th Annual Via Ball

Join us on Saturday, February 9, 2019 for Via's biggest night of the year! Our black and white masquerade will be held at Villa Ragusa from 5:30pm-11:00pm. We have extended the night by a full thirty minutes to include even more time for dancing to Velvet Plum, who is back again this year!

The evening will also feature dinner by Villa Ragusa, exciting live and silent auctions featuring one-of-a-kind items, and more! Early bird tickets are on sale now and are only available through November 29th.


Featured Employee: Jen Baird
Jen is a Speech-Language pathologist providing evaluations and treatment, as well as the Interim First Step Director. She oversees operations for the First Step Department while working closely with partnering agencies like SCCOE and SARC. She is responsible for guaranteeing quality of services to all of our clients.

Jen has 19 years of experience working as a speech language pathologist with children. She originally worked for Via 10 years ago, and she returned in 2015 because she values the company and the people that work here. "Via is an organization that is supportive of its employees and its clients," says Jen. "Via hires team members that are passionate and hard working, which keeps me motivated to continue to always learn and improve."

Amy Churchill, Interim CEO, believes that Jen displays a real love for Via and says that "she is very dedicated to our cause and works so hard to maintain a high standard for herself and for our staff."

Outside of Via, Jen lives with her husband and three children. She enjoys watching her children play sports, exercising, baking, and reading.


We are planning a road trip to San Diego for Thanksgiving with our whole family, which includes our 7 year old with special needs. Do you have any advice on how to get through the long drive? - Deirdre G.
Answered by Sandy Keefe, MSN, RN, Manager of Research and Grants, Via Services

"Over the river and through the woods" evokes childhood memories of family holidays spent with smiling grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles all gathered together. For those of us who are special needs parents, however, the challenges of getting there by car or plane can be daunting. Over the years, I've given each child and old backpack (not good enough for school, but great for schlepping around personal treasures) packed with a few proven favorites, like iPads, headphones, colored pencils, and favorite stuffed animals or dolls. Add some individually packaged snacks and new toys such as small LEGO sets, Barbie, or Pokemon cards. Consider buying 1/2 yard of silky or fuzzy fabric and maybe a new fidget toy or two for those with sensory issues.

Older children and teens may enjoy following the trip on a printed map or competing to see who finds landmarks along the way. When it's time to stop along the highway, give them options about places to eat, dole out a set amount for food, then let them select and pay for their own meal. They can even use GPS or map apps to answer the age-old question: "Are we almost there?" Whatever you decide, take a deep breath and remember the spirit of the holidays!

My district has finally given authorization for NPS placement. What are some of the local options? - Bill M.
Answered by Katie Gilbreth, Community Relations Manager, Via Services

There are some really wonderful options for your child for a non-public school (NPS). Here are just a few (these are in no particular order):

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