Almost a year ago, my husband and I had the pleasure of being invited to the annual POAC gala fundraiser (Parents of Autistic Children, Brick) at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood.
It’s a beautiful venue, and thanks to the diligent efforts of the gala planning committee and the staff at Eagle Ridge, the entire affair was lovely.
Once the lights began to flicker at the end of cocktail hour, we made our way to our seats, and settled in. Gary Weitzen, the executive director of POAC, came up to the podium to deliver his opening speech.
Before he dove into his recital of POAC’s myriad accomplishments over the last decade, he began by sharing with us the devastating day a specialized pediatrician had told him that his then three-year-old son had autism.
This was 1997, and unlike today, there were not thousands of agencies, websites, blogs, and chat rooms for parents to search for autism services. There were also precious few opportunities for parents to congregate with their children in safe environments for recreational purposes.
Gary Weitzen drove home with his son that day, and decided that something needed to be done about this.
POAC, in Brick, is now the largest provider of free autism training and education in the entire state. Its classes for teachers and aides focus on the core deficits of autism, namely communication, behaviors, and socialization issues, and have literally transformed entire classrooms.
In addition to workshops for teachers, there are many free classes offered for parents. POAC offers opportunities for law enforcement to be instructed in the signs of autism as well.
This year’s gala will be held in February at the same venue. If you’re interested in supporting a wonderful organization, and having a fun night out as well, please consider joining us.
For tickets to the POAC gala on 2/25 at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club, in Lakewood, please call POAC at: (732) 785-1099.
For information on how you can volunteer for POAC or simply enjoy their events, please visit their website at: