As April’s Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, Project HOPE Foundation continues its work to create inclusive communities for those with autism.
The organization started 25 years ago out of Susan Sachs and Lisa Lane’s need for programs to assist their children with autism. The pair started a preschool program for children on the autism spectrum that allowed them to be in mainstream classrooms with children not on the spectrum.
From 18 children when initially started, the group has grown to work with about 235 clients, Sachs says. Both Sachs and Lane are co-founders and executive directors of Project HOPE.
“Our mission is to provide a lifespan of autism services, and that includes services across the spectrum from children as young as 12 months of age, who are just learning to speak, and have just gotten that diagnosis of autism all the way up through adulthood,” says Sachs.
One program they run is Printed by HOPE, an entrepreneurial part of the organization that allows adult clients to design and sell t-shirts that also serves as an employment training opportunity where clients are paid minimum wage for their work. It’s only part of their effort to help clients become more included in society and the workforce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 54 children is diagnosed with autism with boys four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Project HOPE is in a fundraising initiative during Autism Awareness Month with an online auction in conjunction with its 2021 Hope Invitational Golf Tournament. An anonymous donor has stepped forward to match up to $100,000 for Project HOPE up until May 4. That’s money that could go toward what was lost in the pandemic.
“Autism doesn’t stop for COVID,” says Sachs. “In fact, we expanded services because the need for support of families and therapy and education was critical.”
To find out more about Project HOPE and ways to donate or get involved, visit https://www.projecthopesc.org/.