My Day Volunteering for Autism Advisory Board
Preparations are under way for a fundraising event at Caste Village Commons this fall.
Patch is all about serving communities, so much so that the company pays its employees for time spent volunteering at local charitable organizations five times per year. Patch also gives 5 percent of its ad inventory to charities. It's all part of what Patch is calling its Give 5 effort.
Thursday was the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch's third Give 5 day of 2011, and as the B-W Patch editor, I had the pleasure of choosing an organization to volunteer for this week. After asking for suggestions, I chose ABOARD, or the Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders, which will hold a fundraiser at the Caste Village Commons in Whitehall Borough sometime this fall.
This isn't the first time that the B-W Patch has followed the happenings of ABOARD, which counts Tom Caste of The Royal Mile Company, owners of Caste Village, as one of its members. ABOARD held a fundraiser at Caste's Princess Lanes/Prior's Tap & Tavern in May.
Founded in 1995, ABOARD provides numerous services for both parents and educators of individuals with autism, including a phone counseling line for parents, over 60 support groups in over 45 counties, an 80-volume lending library (free to use), training workshops for teachers, and more.
Earlier this week, I spoke to Lu Randall, executive director of the non-profit organization, who told me that there were really two ways that I could help ABOARD on Thursday. One was spreading the word of donations requests to support upcoming ABOARD events in Pittsburgh's South Hills area, and the other was measuring the inside of Caste Village Commons to help Randall get an idea of how many tables that she could fit in there for one such event.
As for the former, Randall said that ABOARD invites area businesses or individuals to make a tax-deductible donation of goods, services or sponsorship for one or some of its events.
Randall said that more than 500 people are expected to attend these gatherings, which include a free bowling day, an outdoor science expedition and a free legal-services fair. Donations will be used for raffles, door prizes or event sponsorship.
To contribute or to find out more, you can contact ABOARD's Resource and Communications Director Rebecca Williams-Thomas by Aug. 15 at 412-449-0165 or at email@example.com. ABOARD thanks you for your consideration.
You may also contact the B-W Patch, which will do its best to get you in the hands of Randall and/or Williams-Thomas.
The latter (measuring Caste Village Commons) was the more laborious of Randall's two requests; though, it wasn't too bad.
Equipped with my personal tape measurer and a handy Patch pen and notebook, I took to the Commons.
If you've never been "inside" Caste Village, that's a shame. The indoor part of the large shopping center, known as the Commons or "mall" area, is quite comfortable. Very often, I'll take to the top floor of the Commons for a quiet spot to do some reporting. (There's free Wi-Fi, after all, not to mention Julie's Treats.)
Nevertheless, I was on the bottom floor measuring the grounds for Randall on Thursday. Randall wanted to know how long each of the walls of the main lobby was. That task sounds simpler than it was, as there were many pillars and other obstructions in the way. To boot, the place is hardly a square.
Like most writers aren't afraid to tell you, I'm no artist. I crafted a pretty crude rendering of the Commons—even daring to call it a map—and measured each wall, including ones alongside the mall's slightly slanted entrance/exit halls.
Working alone, I got pretty good at marking with my toes where I left off with my tape on each wall/part of the floor. I also got pretty good at adding up inches in my head along the way (another major attainment for a writer).
When it was all said and done, I sent my sketch and measurements along to Randall, who was more than appreciative, via email.
"That is fabulous and EXACTLY what I needed," Randall wrote back. "I didn't have time to get down there and do that. THANKS!"
I'll consider that a volunteering victory.
Still, Randall's other request needs fulfilled. If you or your company is interested in supporting ABOARD's worthy causes, or if you know someone or some company who might be interested, don't hesitate to contact Rebecca Williams-Thomas by Aug. 15. Again, her number is 412-449-0165, and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Randall reminded me that, just 10 years ago, many people weren't really sure what autism was and, likely, didn't know anyone who was dealing with an autism diagnosis.
Now, however, chances are good that someone that you know personally has a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, classmate or friend who has been diagnosed with the disorder.
The event that I was measuring for on Thursday was the aforementioned legal-services fair, which Randall said will most likely be held on a Saturday at the Commons this coming fall (exact date to be determined). The event will be for families to explore topics such as power of attorney, guardianship, social security, special-needs trust and legal issues concerning victimization.
"It's primarily an information fair but might make (ABOARD) a little money on table fees," Randall said.
Patch's next Give 5 day is Sept. 15.