Family members of Devereux Pennsylvania youth raise $8,000 for the organization
Thanks to the generosity of its many supporters, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is able to continue the vision of its founder – Helena Devereux – to help build a life of resilience, self-fulfillment and happiness for people of all abilities. It can be particularly rewarding when family members recognize the organization’s achievements by taking on fundraising efforts of their own.
This was the case of Cindy and Matt Puscar, aunt and uncle of Mickey who is a resident of Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) center. Celebrating Matt’s 40th birthday earlier this year culminated in a fundraiser that raised $8,000 for CIDDS, which will be used to create a sensory room for youth with special needs.
Commemorating a 40th birthday
“Last year, we were trying to figure out how to celebrate my 40th birthday,” explained Matt Puscar. “We thought about a party, travel or buying certain things, but we attended a charity event that friends of ours put on every year in honor of their brother and father, and were inspired to do something ourselves. We shifted our focus away from what we should do to celebrate our milestone, to what we should do to help others and start a tradition of our own. We wanted to make a local impact for something that’s near and dear to us. Of course, Devereux immediately came to mind because of my nephew, Mickey, who lives in one of CIDDS’ residential houses.”
Mickey, who is 17-years-old, entered the CIDDS Greenway residential home seven years ago with diagnoses of autism, separation anxiety and an intellectual disability. Since that time, he has developed stronger communication skills and coping skills to help deal with change. Today, Mickey lives in Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS’ Laura Villa Men’s Center.
“From our experience, when people talk about helping those with autism, they are talking about young children. It seems that kids aging with autism, like Mickey, are often overlooked or misunderstood,” noted Cindy Puscar.
An exciting evening
The Puscars handled all of the logistics, and their successful fundraising event was held at The Merion Tribute House in Merion Station, Pa. A supportive group of more than 80 family members and friends attended the cocktail hour and dinner, along with dancing, and a silent auction/raffle.
The evening ended with speeches from Matt Puscar and Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Greenway Treatment Manager Lauren Eder, who explained how the donations would be used.
Funding a sensory room
“When we reached out to Devereux initially for a wish list of what the kids needed, at the top of the list was a sensory room,” said Cindy Puscar.
Sensory rooms allow individuals with autism or other special needs the opportunity to experience a less stimulating world or surrounding environment by using special lighting, decreasing background noise through the use of music or sound machines, and allowing people to explore their personal sensory world with different toys and seating equipment. The majority of individuals with autism have a heightened response to sensory stimulation and these rooms help individuals learn how to process sensory stimulation in a safe and more predictable setting. Ultimately, the use of sensory rooms helps individuals find and develop coping strategies to increase self-regulation in everyday life.
“Sensory rooms can be difficult to fund because the equipment is very expensive and it requires regular maintenance,” said Eder. “Funding from events like the Puscar’s extremely generous birthday celebration fundraiser are the main reason sensory rooms in our programs exist. Now, each of our Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS programs has access to a sensory room, either in a residence or in a school. This is fantastic news for the individuals we serve, including Mickey!”
Eder added: “It was a pleasure to be part of this event, as an educator and an advocate for people living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences. The evening was truly amazing.”
Same time next year!
“Our goal is to raise visibility for the great work Devereux does, and possibly hold a similar fundraiser next year … but bigger!” exclaimed Matt Puscar.