Kelly Cain is from Pittsburgh, Pa, and is the Executive Director of the Autism Caring Center, which was founded in 2017. Advocacy, professional training, support groups, and family activities are provided free of charge. She is also founding board member of PALS ( Providing Assistance, Love, and Support) a free recreational program approaching its ninth year of support for special needs families. In August 2019, she received a District Difference Maker Award from Councilman Sam Demarco and Tom Baker for outstanding community service. She is the proud mom of 3 children, one affected by Autism.
To learn more about the Autism Caring Center please visit www.autismcaringcenter.com
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welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast. We are so excited to bring to you another special guest today. Chris, you want to share who we have on the show?
Yeah. Hey, everybody. Um, today we have Kelly Kane with the autism caring center located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Um, morning, Kelly.
Morning. How are you?
I'm good. How are you doing?
I'm cold, but I'm good.
We're getting snow in the Seattle area, which believe it or not, is not super common. So I definitely feel any on that. Yeah. Um, well, first, could you maybe tell us a little bit about the autism caring center and sort of what what you do for the autism community?
Yeah, um, well, the our mission is, it's like a lot of other nonprofits out there. We pride. We're providing support for individuals with autism. But we're also providing support for the entire family. So we do resources, support training for businesses, and education. We were founded in 2017. My son is on the spectrum. And I had a co founder at the time with a daughter on the spectrum. So we both worked in the community for about 10 years. And we were like, let's fill it. So. Yeah, we're going into our fourth year in October.
Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing really cool.
You really do a lot for your community there too, Kelly. I know I've been very privileged to be on included as an autism mom and one of your support groups. And I would love for you to just share that information.
Right. So we started a support group. It was in house it, we just caught it, let's talk. I had been to support groups when my son was diagnosed. And I felt like they were more like, in mourning, right. Like, instead of joy, because there are a lot of noise in raising our kids. There's a lot of silver linings that you don't always see at first. So the support group is really talking about maybe the challenges you see, but also the joys I don't want anybody to join thinking that is just, Oh, woe is me, we're not here for that. Right. We're here to lift each other up and really support the community. So we gather every two weeks and now via zoom. So we always list the zoom link on our Facebook page, if anybody would like to directly they can reach out to me by email them directly. We had one last night and it's really been nice. We don't limit it to age groups. I know some support groups might do that, like only for this group. That was beneficial. I think you need I call it the bigs in the littles. Right. Like, yeah, the the moms that have been through it, and the other moms are like, Oh, my gosh, what just happened? What did I just experienced today? And we're like, laughing through it and like, Oh, it's gonna be fine. You know, they're gonna stop biting, I think, you know, and, you know, just helping each other through those daily struggles. And there's a topic off limit. It's really parent LED, I am not I tried to moderate the best I can to keep people from going too long. But it's really, it's really been heartwarming to see everybody coming together. So everybody, welcome even gaps in for you dads out there because we know you need the support to
that's also and where can people go to join that group?
Every week, there is information on our Facebook page. And then if they would want it, emailed separately to them, I could do that as well.
That's pretty cool.
I noticed on your website, you have a raffle going on right now.
Yeah, we did. That was our I'm in the process of working on my website. I'm sorry about that. We did. We did a Disney raffle. We have a huge fundraiser every year in the summer. It's called the summer fadeaway Festival. It was designed by our one of our board members and his son has autism. And his daughter had told her she wanted the autism to fade away just like summer. So he created a street fair called the summer fade away festival. And every year we shut down a whole street and we raise money with abandoned kids activity on my site and then the autism Parent Center when we became beneficiary to that we made it more autism friendly and created created sensory rooms for parents to come and then resource tables vendor tables. And we did it all for free. We just wanted parents to have access to what they need. I'm a strong believer in not taking from the very community that you're trying to serve, right? It's a struggle. It's a struggle, and I've been through it, and I find it, you know, sometimes I find it insulting that you would actually charge one of our families for information they need to help their kids. So creating that festival and raising money is absolutely the goal for that festival, Disney recognize that, and they send us tickets for Disney World, every year to raffle off at our event. So we did that virtually this year. So yeah, it was really fun in anybody's open to that. It was a really fun event. So we should have that again, this year. We reached out to them and they sent us passes. So it's really, really cool. Right now we're in the process of transitioning our website, support groups that are looking for support for advertisers that may need to have a be able to help our, our community here in the Pittsburgh area. And we do a lot of training. That's how I met Tasha through a networking group, yes, through a train. But before, before I met her, I had we had done free training for businesses in the area. So anybody that training for the businesses, we provide that and that's extremely rewarding. And really fun to do. It's fun to give back what you know, after all these years, right?
Absolutely. And Kelly, you have such a gift of bringing people together, and connecting people, these parents and the community. And it is so needed, it is so needed. So
I it was what's missing, right, like so the other, you know, the Mother's Day brunch, that was the first thing that we did as a nonprofit, we got our startup money. And that was the very first thing we did was create a free brunch for mothers, that they can attend and connect with others. And to watch those ladies form friendships. And we brought in a speaker and again, it's not a speaker, that's gloom and doom. And, you know, it is emotive, somebody that's motivational that's going to talk to you that you know, recognize your challenges, but also say, hey, look, you're surrounded by all these other people. And that is also free. We get some sponsorships for that, to help sponsor you table. So that's upcoming. So if anybody listening would like to help those mothers, in that way, we would love to have some sponsorships for that as well. That will be coming up. So that's really great. Dad's day out was supposed to happen. I'm looking at Chris, dad's dad was supposed to happen in June. But with the pandemic, everything changed. So we're looking to reorganize that again, to really get those dads talking to because it's hard, right? It can be hard. Yes.
Now, on your website, do you have a calendar of events?
So, like I said, we are I just actually talked with my website, designer. And we are getting everything up by name, but is it? February? So yeah, probably by the end of the month, everything should be rolling. Awesome.
And what is your website?
It's www dot autism, caring center.com. And on there, they'll be able to find the let's talk zoom links. They'll be able to find how they can support the Mother's Day brunch. And then if I have the Mother's Day brunch date up, it'll be there as well as the dad's day out. And you know, we're really looking forward to supporting the whole family that way. And all those events will be free for anybody who wants to attend. There'll be no charge. And that's our gift right to be able to do that.
Yeah. So it's, it's a real, it's an honor to serve these families. Let them be part of their lives to help them through anything. I really find it a great honor to support them.
Well, it sounds like you do an awesome job. And we're really, really honored to have you on. Thank you so much for her being part of our show, Kelly.
Oh, thank you guys. I really appreciate it.
Kelly, one last thing that we always ask everybody before we close, what's the one piece of advice that you would give to families.
It's gonna sound cliche, but one day at a time and if not one day at a time, one minute at a time. I think I've gone down two minutes to really get through You know, I've gone down to like, you know, sitting there thinking this is never going to get better. And it does it everything does one minute at a time. When you're having the bad days, I'd say one minute at a time. Absolutely.
Great advice. Great advice. Well, thank you so much for being here, Kelly. It will make you happy you.
Oh, thank you so much. Have a great day, you guys.
Now, we would love to hear from you.
Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?
Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!