My Milestones – Strike It Big Co-Chair Brian Taylor

Upon moving to Ohio, Brian Taylor knew he wanted to get involved with a nonprofit in the local community. When his employer Sherwin Williams connected him with Milestones Autism Resources, he found a cause he was passionate about and the outlet he was searching for that would allow him to give back.

Fast forward to the present: Brian is now in his second year of serving as a Milestones Strike It Big co-chair. This position goes far beyond standard volunteering, involving heavy involvement with the planning of one of the organization’s largest events of the year (the autism-friendly bowling event engaged 17 sponsors and more than 400 bowlers in 2018). In this role, Brian provides guidance and support to staff and committee members as Milestones works toward hosting an incredible event and raising money for the Milestones free autism Helpdesk.

“My ultimate goal throughout this whole experience is to help serve our community and to help our team exceed the goals we’ve set,” Brian says. “We have so many great people serving on our committees and I am truly honored to be able to work with each one of them.”

So what drew Brian to get involved with Strike It Big in particular? The community element.

“In addition to helping raise money for such a crucial service, this event is so much fun for all participants,” Brian says. “Families who attend can expect an autism-friendly and fun atmosphere. You come and immediately create a personal connection with other families in the autism community, as well as the Milestones team and sponsors who are making it all happen.”
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My Milestones – Irene Jones, Josiah’s House

Irene Jones is an incredible example of a local parent who turned a personal passion into a service for her community.

“I am the type of person who loves a challenge. When someone says to me that it can’t be done, I am determined to make it happen.”

In 2008, Jones created a supportive, productive space for individuals like her son Josiah.

“My son Josiah is the reason Josiah’s House came about – he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; he is now 30 years young. He is my drive, my inspiration in moving forward with the vision.”

After his diagnosis, Jones found the existing network of resources to not be as beneficial to her family as she hoped. This sprung her into action; it wasn’t long until Jones decided to quit her job as an RTA bus driver so she could discharge her son from his group home and dedicate her time to providing the developmental care he needed. While learning how to take care of her son, Jones immersed herself in learning about treatment and the needs of the autism community at large. She earned her certification from the Ohio Dept. of Developmental Disabilities and began to build what is now known as Josiah’s House.
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My Milestones – 2018 Annual Benefit Honoree, Steve Wexberg, MD

As an exceptional pediatrician with an impressive passion for serving his community, 2018 Benefit honoree Steve Wexberg, MD has dedicated the majority of his life to supporting local families through his every-day practice.

Wexberg has become a reliable resource for the autism community here in Cleveland, using his knowledge and authority on behavioral and developmental disorders to seek out new, collaborative solutions to support life-long healthcare for individuals with autism.

Wexberg has been a key player on the Milestones Board of Directors since 2006, lending his perspective and guidance in an effort to shape one of Milestones’ core offerings, the Milestones National Autism Conference.

“Steve has been passionate about the necessity to consider and plan for the medical needs of adults with autism. He has done so much to assist Milestones in creating an educational space for health professionals at the conference for them to gain ongoing medical education around autism,” said Ilana Hoffer Skoff, Executive Director of Milestones Autism Resources.
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My Milestones – 2018 Benefit Honoree Phillip Irvin

Phillip Irvin, a dedicated father of two and a true champion for the local autism community, uses his invaluable perspective to help others on a similar journey as his.

Irvin’s relationship with Milestones first started when his family sought resources to help his son. Now, Irvin is an active leader on the Milestones Board of Directors and has served as Milestones’ Treasurer, Co-Chair of Milestones’ annual Strike It Big bowling event, and on multiple committees.

“Phillip brings energy, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to all of his involvements with Milestones,” stated Milestones Operation Director Mia Buchwald Gelles. “He gets so excited about helping families with autism and is constantly seeking to raise the bar with what we can accomplish.”

What has been the most rewarding part of being involved with Milestones?
Helping families feel like they aren’t alone in this journey. From the shock and disbelief of a diagnosis, to school and family support, all the way to work/college transition and beyond, Milestones can help families connect with resources and others who provide a sense of community. No one needs to deal with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) alone or to feel like they are alone. Every single block in every neighborhood in all of CLE is impacted by ASD and Milestones helps connect all of those single points into a widespread community.
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My Milestones – Jenna Newman: Helping First Responders Communicate With Individuals With Special Needs

Jenna Newman of Mentor knew that if her young son with autism ever needed help or had an emergency, the Mentor Fire Department would be the first ones contacted. Concerned that first responders may not know how to interact with her son and children like him, Newman teamed up with the Mentor Fire Department to start a free fire safety story-time for kids with special needs. The program was designed to build relationships between local children and firefighters by including shared experiences, such as story-time, a joint activity, and a trip to the parking lot for a tour by the firefighters of firetrucks.

“My son went from not wanting to do anything with any of it, to now sitting by the firemen, high-fiving them, listening to the story and doing the activities; he is really loving the program!” said Newman. “He has made some awesome friends with these heroes.”

The fire safety story-time program was such a success that the nearby Willoughby Fire Department contacted Newman to get the program started at their station as well. However, Newman’s efforts of helping the fire departments didn’t end there. The mother of four also helped to provide new icon cards to the fire departments. These small cards, which include icons of things such as people and body parts, can be used by first responders to engage with individuals with communication needs, and they are now on each truck at both the Mentor and Willoughby fire departments.
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