Tell us about you.
My name is Becky Boswell and I joined the Autism Society Central Virginia as Executive Director in January 2014. I have been working for and with individuals with autism and their families for the past twelve years. I previously served as the Outreach Coordinator for the VCU Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) and worked as the Community Outreach and Action Groups Coordinator for Commonwealth Autism Service. I also have fifteen years of experience in early childhood education, as both a Preschool Teacher and Director. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Tech and my Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Averett University.
What is the focus of your work?
In March 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued their latest ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States and almost 1 in 42 boys. Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism and no known cure at this time, but increased awareness, resources, and funding can help individuals living with autism and their families today.
The mission of the Autism Society Central Virginia is to improve the lives of ALL affected by autism in our community by maximizing the self- sufficiency, independence, and quality of life for individuals living with autism and their families. It is our vision to be the local voice and resource of the autism community in education, advocacy, services, and support. We are committed to meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum, at any age and any stage, and their families.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
We help individuals living with autism in our community and their families navigate the journey from diagnosis through adulthood. We provide real help, including resources, education, programs, and information, that people in our community need right now. My biggest rewards come from the smiles of the individuals and family members we serve, and the knowledge that every day we are working to make a positive difference in the lives of all individuals affected by autism in our community.
What are some major challenges you have faced?
Awareness is one of the biggest challenges we face – Every day we strive to educate members of our community about autism, the impact it has on individuals and families, and how the Autism Society Central VA is here to help! We speak to groups and at events all over Central VA in an effort to raise friends and ambassadors who can help us share about the programs and opportunities we provide, so that all individuals and families who might benefit will know we are here.
As it is for many nonprofits, funding is also a major challenge. We are blessed that many individuals and groups, who share our passion and mission, are generous and show their support in many ways. However, we are always looking for ways to raise additional funds so that we can increase programs and better meet the needs of our entire community.
What’s coming next for you and/or for your organization that really excites you?
Fall 2015 is a very busy time for the ASCV! Our monthly programs and meetings start back with a Workshop on Special Needs Trusts in September, an IEP Boot Camp in October, and the Annual Life in the Community Conference in November! We are also looking forward to several fundraising opportunities, including a Poker Run Motorcycle Ride in Colonial Heights/Chesterfield, the Courthouse Car Show in Amelia, and the Martial Arts World Super Show in Henrico, all in October! Information and details on ALL of our upcoming events and programs can always be found on our website.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
ConnectVA is a wonderful portal for area nonprofits to share information and resources with each other! I really appreciate that ConnectVA helps promote a community feel among nonprofits – when we all work together, we can all achieve so much more!
Anything else you would like to share?
The Autism Society Central VA is always looking for volunteers who are invested in helping us achieve our mission! A variety of opportunities are available, including serving as a Board Member, helping with registration at meetings, engaging with participants at our monthly bowling leagues and Lego/game clubs, and much more!