Where are you now?
"I have continued to serve as the CEO of The Haven, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. Our organization has continued to expand. Since I won the Alumni Award in 2017, we have built a 7,500-square-foot distribution center that allows our adult clients to work for companies such as Bealls and Sun Hydraulics on our campus. We also built the area’s first aquatic therapy pool complex and a new state-of-the-art residential home that was designed for people in wheelchairs. In addition, The Haven was awarded the first Impact 100 SRQ grant that allowed us to complete an expansion of our Selby Preschool program.
“I am a semester away from graduating with my second master’s degree. This one is in Nonprofit Leadership from UCF. I also got married and have a 3-month-old baby! I have stayed busy!"
"Covid-19! As with many of the area’s nonprofits, The Haven has been impacted by the global pandemic. Our residential program serves 49 adults with disabilities that all have underlying medical conditions. Our No. 1 job has been to keep them safe. I am proud to say that we have had minimal cases of Covid-19 and everyone has remained healthy. All of our day programs were closed for three months, and around 500 clients were without services. We have since reopened all of our programs but continue to operate at a reduced capacity. Our operational revenue has been dramatically affected, but the community has really stepped up to help us.
"Continuing to expand the Haven campus and offer topnotch programs to the disability community.
“Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no playbook for that and we had to adapt and learn as we went.
"The developmental disability community often gets forgotten about. The Covid-19 pandemic has really showed how much work we have to do in order to spread awareness to this population. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities benefited by having a lot of direction and testing resources at the state level. The developmental disability population has not been included in things like mandated testing and guidance on when we will have the vaccine, despite the fact that our population almost always has underlying health conditions that put them at a greater risk for developing complications from Covid-19.
"I think having the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes allows a person to build bridges in the community. We often get so caught up in our own lives that we neglect to understand what other people might be experiencing. Even though we are all different, we are all very much the same. If we took a few minutes out of our day to sit and talk to someone and just listen, the world would be a more cohesive place.
"I am very hopeful that this can be accomplished. Covid-19 and our recent election have created a massive divide in our country. I think time can bridge the gap. We need time to heal and learn from past mistakes. "