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St. Gerard House
Home of the Grotto School
February 2015

In This Issue
Contact Us
St. Gerard House
620 Oakland Street
Hendersonville, NC 28791
Book of the Month
"Together, Lynn Kern Koegel, and Claire LaZebnik, a professional writer and the mother of a child with autism, have updated their classic guide with today’s cutting-edge research. This revised edition has also been expanded to clarify the importance of community support to affected families and the effect of societal acceptance on a child’s life. Still the only book on autism coauthored by professional in the field and a parent with first-hand experience, Overcoming Autism is as warm and nurturing as it is authoritative."
Connect Program
All age groups!
Our next session will begin
February 17, 2015!
The Connect Program is open to children in elementary, middle and high school, who need a little bit of extra support in the social world.
Students do not need a diagnosis to enroll. Classes meet twice a week after school, and include a parent forum. Teachers use fun, hands-on activities, based on Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking® Curriculum, to teach specific strategies for children to use in the classroom and at home.

For more information on how to register click here or please contact our main office at 828-693-4223 or via e-mail at
Each month we want to introduce you to some of the characters that are used in the Social Thinking® Curriculum.

Topic Twister Meister! 
  • Gets a person to twist the topic around to what he/she wants to talk about.
  • Causes a person to go off on tangents, going on and on about a topic not realizing that others are not interested.
How to Defeat Topic Twister Meister!
  • Check-in with those around you. Does it look like they are interested in what you are saying?
  • Ask questions about what others want to talk about.
Summer Camps: Here are a few summer camps we know of in the area that have programs specially designed for campers with autism.
[Environmental Working Group] Good food on a Tight Budget
[Environmental Working Group] Eat Organic and Fresh Foods
Other Resources:
Lois' Closet is a new consignment boutique on Main Street, Hendersonville. Every 2nd Tuesday of the month, 10% of their profits will be donated to St. Gerard House! We are so grateful for this! 
Ability Shirts is a non-profit organization that believes no one has a (dis)ABILITY, everyone has abilities. They will donate 10% their sales to St. Gerard House. You can purchase their awareness products at Once Upon a Sign in downtown Hendersonville. Please visit in store or online at For more information please contact Adam Farris at 828-290-7372
One Thousand Blessings
Our challenge to recognize the blessings in our lives continues. Almost a year ago we challenged our team, parents and Board of Directors to write the blessings they have received. Our goal is to write 1,000 blessings as a group.

Here are this month's top ten blessings.
We are grateful for...
1. Hope

2. Working color printer!

3. Haircuts

4. Safe airplanes

5. Slow Cookers

6. Movies you can watch again and again

7. Restaurants

8. Wool Socks

9. Family Nights

10. Having a Fiance

Giving to SGH
Even a small contribution makes a big difference for us. Please consider a donation, a pledge, or an in-kind gift, to help us continue offering evidence based autism services in the community. And remember, we are a 501c3 non-profit, so all monetary and in-kind donations are tax-deductible! Click here to make a donation.  
Your gift will help us provide scholarships for Grotto students and Connect participants who are on the waiting list for scholarship slots.
Wish List: We have our wish list at Amazon, if you'd  like to donate to SGH in-kind. It works just like a wedding registry - you can order items to be sent straight to us! The item to the left is an item on our wishlist!
Take a look and see what you may be able to help us with Click here to see it!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi Party! Join us on Fat Tuesday, February 17, 2015 from 6-9pm at the Wild Wing Cafe in Arden, NC for our Fifth Annual Mardi Gras Party! We will have delicious Cajun food, beer and wine tasting, great live music, a silent auction and a live auction! Come when you can - silent auction closes at 8:00pm. Read more about the event here, or tell us you're coming on Facebook! Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
100% of ticket and auction proceeds from this fundraiser go straight to St. Gerard House, so come let the good times roll, and support SGH all at once! Click here to purchase your tickets online!
Upcoming  Events:
NC ABA - The Executive Council of the North Carolina Association for Behavior Analysis (NCABA) will hold its 26th Annual Conference here in Asheville on February 11th - 13th, 2015. This is an incredible conference that brings together all those in the field throughout our state.

Kindergarten Readiness Rally - Get ready for Kindergarten! Join us on March 19th from 4 - 7 pm at the Blue Ridge Mall in Hendersonville. This is a free, fun and informative event to help your child get ready to succeed in school. Come meet representatives from area Kindergartens. 
Week of the Young Child - The Children & Family Resource Center will host the 4th Annual Week of the Young Child Conference on April 18, 2015. The conference will draw child care teachers, directors and other early childhood professionals and parents from Henderson, Buncombe and Transylvania Counties to Blue Ridge Community College to participate. We are looking forward to this great event!

First Words of Hope Luncheon - Our fifth annual First Words of Hope Luncheon will take place on April 22, 2015 at Blue Ridge Community College. If you are interested in participating at this event or attending please contact Bertha Medina at 693-4223.
Foot RX Run for St. Gerard House - On July 8th, St. Gerard House will be the beneficiary of a 5K. The minimum donation per runner will be $5. The theme will be a prediction run, each runner will predict their finishing time, and will not be allowed to run with a watch.  The top 3 runners who predict the closest to their actual finish time will win, regardless of actual finishing place. We hope you can join us!

Autism in the News
[Wall Street Journal 1.11.15] A New Savings Plan for the Disabled
Spotlight On: Rhonda Becker

A native of Chicago, IL and a graduate of Waubonsee College  for Psychology, Rhonda joined the St. Gerard House team in 2012. She works as a behavior technician at the Grotto Center working directly with our students. Prior to SGH, Rhonda had worked with children on the autism spectrum for 4 years.
This spring, Rhonda will be leaving SGH to start a wonderful journey of hiking the Appalachian Trail. She will be missed here but we are very excited for her!

Bertha: How has working at the Grotto impacted your life?
R: It’s helped me realize how much NC is in need of resources. There are thousands of children and adults in our state that are not receiving the services they need. People are feeling lost and it’s shown me how to be an advocate for these families and for the ones who don’t have a voice. I’m proud to be a part of the ABA movement in the Asheville area and am excited to see the growth over the years.
B: What has been your favorite part about being on staff at SGH?
R: I enjoy the level of team work and dedication each staff shows each and everyday; it inspires me. You are able to think freely and if you have a good idea it’s nurtured and everyone’s focus is on the children and not on unimportant matters. Also, being able to meet weekly and discuss our ideas and thoughts about the children with each other is an amazing privilege that most schools do not have. It helps us grow and evolve into something greater each week.
B: What aspect of your job are you most passionate about?
R: Communication hands down. I thoroughly enjoy seeing a child use sign language for the first time or utter his/her first words. I feel that moment is when teaching becomes much easier for you and the student. If they’re able to express their wants and needs to you, it’s a reduced amount of stress for the child and for the ones involved in their lives.
B:  What's next for you?
R: I had been chronically ill from 2010-2013 with little to no answers and was eventually sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. After not finding answers there, I moved to NC in hopes of a new start. Eventually I found solutions to my health but I had to put my education on hold and spend it on my well being instead which caused a heavy amount of stress in my life. I decided to hit the reset button and hike the Appalachian Trail, raise money to continue my education and educate people along the way about autism and the health issues I suffer from. You can support Rhonda here, and follow her journey on the trail through her blog!
Rhonda has been an incredible therapist and team member here at SGH! We have all been blessed by her talent and experience. She will always be part of our St. Gerard House family!
Feed the Need!
The Feed the Need Garden is an exciting program for young adults with Autism. Unlike other programs at St. Gerard House, Feed the Need specifically geared toward young adults and teens in order to prepare them for the working world. Feed the Need focuses on vocational, social, and daily-living skills that are not usually taught in a typical classroom setting.

Feed the Need uses a seed-to-sale philosophy, which allows participants to be involved in every aspect of an agribusiness. If you are interested in learning more about this program call Harlan Chumley (828) 693-4223 x 15
Pictured to the left is our very own Hydroponic Tower Garden.
Family Group Night
Monday: February 16, 2015,
Theme: Available Services for Families! We will have representatives from Smoky Mountain Center and The Arc!


Thank you to Medea Galligan from Medea's Expresso Juice Bar for coming last month to share about nutrition and the immune system! We are so grateful to you for the great information we received!
We'll serve a family meal (with GF/CF options) at 5:30pm, then at 6, we'll divide into break-out groups:
  • siblings (all ages)
  • child care (0-5 yo)  
  • children with special needs (6-11 yo)
  • youth with special needs (12-21 yo)
Family Group Night is open to all families experiencing special needs in Henderson and surrounding counties. Come share your stories, gather resources, and have fun! Please be on time so you don't miss out on anything!
This group meets on the 3rd Monday of every month at 5:30 at St. Gerard House, 620 Oakland St. Additional parking at Immaculata School at 711 Buncombe St.
Provided to the community free of charge by SGH and Family Support Network of WNC

Because of the variety of age groups we serve and the variety of programs we offer, St. Gerard House is a great place to volunteer for learning opportunities.
We are currently looking to have more support and help in the following areas:  planning fundraisers and teacher aides at our Grotto School.

We rely on over 800 hours of volunteer work every month!
If you or someone you know are interested in any of these opportunities, please call us at 828-693-4223 x 14  or send us an email:
St. Gerard House • 620 Oakland St. • Hendersonville, NC 28791
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