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St. Gerard House
Home of The Grotto Center
December 2015

In This Issue:
Contact Us
SGH Blessing
Autism in the News
Trash to Cash!
Giving to SGH
From our Executive Director
St. Gerard House News!
Spotlight On: Jennifer Balkcom
Welcome to SGH!
Feed the Need
Contact Us
St. Gerard House
620 Oakland Street
Hendersonville, NC 28791
Connect Program

December 1 2015 - February 16, 2016
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 once 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

SGH Blessing
The best blessing we received this month was a beautiful note from a parent of one of our Feed The Need participants. Notes like these inspire us to continue our mission.
"Our son came home from the class last night and was so proud of his pie, just as he has been with bringing home lettuce, etc. I wanted you all to see these pictures and thank you all so much for such meaningful programs for our special young people."
God Bless,
Parent of FTN 
Autism in the News
[Fox News 11.29.15] College program gets autistic adults ready for work 
[Boston Globe 11.28.15] Sensitive Santa at Bass Pro Shops for the Holidays
[Washington Times 11.9.15] Autistic teen-chef turns food aversion into passion 
[Fox News 11.13.15] 1 in 45 American Children has ASD 
Holidays/Food Sensitivities: A Holiday Menu [Autism File]
Holiday Gift Guide for Children and Teens with Autism [National Autism Resources]
Sensory Suggestions for the Holidays 
Ability Shirts is a nonprofit corporation that supports individuals with “unique abilities" by selling awareness products. Ability Shirts is dedicated to donating a portion of their sales to SGH at the end of the year! To contribute and check out their products, visit them at 
Trash to Cash!
Looking for a way to help St. Gerard House this holiday season? Recycle your old Christmas lights! 

From now until January 8th, you may drop off your Christmas lights at SGH. From this collection, we will receive a donation to be put toward our programs! 
Family Group Night
Monday: December 14, 2015 
Theme: Parents' Night Out 
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 St. Gerard House.
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!
Monetary Donations! Your gift will help us provide scholarships for families and individuals who are on the waiting list for scholarship slots for The Grotto, Connect and Feed the Need programs.
In Kind Donations! 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! Take a look and see if there is anything on here you could donate to SGH. Click here to see it!
From our Executive Director
"SGH is growing up and out! We have purchased the building across the street and are excited to announce our Expanding Hope campaign. We will use this new space to expand our Grotto program for kids ages 8-12 and to have a home base for our Feed The Need adult services. We will have a teaching kitchen for our culinary program and a community room as well as office space. For more information on the campaign or our growing services, please call our office at 828-693-4223." 
God Bless, 
St. Gerard House News!

2015 Highlights:
  • We began the Culinary Training Program in October 2015 with six participants!
  • One of our Grotto Students left our center and became fully mainstreamed in the public school system in August.
  • Two of our Grotto Students are integrated five days per week at Immaculata Catholic School!
  • Eight new students enrolled at The Grotto Center in 2015!
  • St. Gerard House was awarded 7 grants from various organizations!
  • We welcomed 11 new staff members to the SGH family!
  • SGH helped 3 High School students complete their Senior Project on Autism.
  • SGH was blessed to have five student interns from Blue Ridge Community College this year!
  • 70 participants enrolled in our Connect Program!
The St. Gerard House Staff wishes all of you and your families a Merry Christmas! We are so grateful your continued support!
Up on Autism Blog! Check out our latest blog post! Here you will hear first hand experiences and learn new tips and tools on everyday living with autism. 

Congressman visits SGH: Last Tuesday, we had the privilege of introducing Congressman Mark Meadows to SGH's programs and participants.  Pictured to the left is Congressman Meadows meeting one of our Grotto Students.


Our Grotto Thanksgiving was a great success! The SGH family is most grateful for the children and families we are able to serve. We had so much fun celebrating the holiday with everyone! Click here to check out more photos.
Spotlight On: Jennifer Balkcom
Jennifer Balkcom is a Board Member, as well as a faithful friend of St. Gerard House. Born in Hendersonville, Jennifer comes from a long line of Western North Carolina natives. She and her husband, Clint, have been married for nearly six years and together have two sons, Dawson and Douglas. Outside of giving her time to SGH, Jennifer is the Branch Manager at the United Federal Credit Union, as well as a student at BRCC. We are so blessed by Jennifer's commitment to the SGH Mission!
Mary Caroline: How did you become involved with SGH?
Jennifer: My friend, Mary Murry, invited me to the first SGH Luncheon, where I heard Caroline's story and the story of SGH parents. Caroline's passion stole my heart and I could never forget it. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help her and get the story out there. 
MC: What are your hobbies?
J: I enjoy spending time with my family. I love to read and run. My husband and I have recently started doing one 5k a month together. It is something we really enjoy doing together.
MC: What else are you involved with in the community?
J: I work with the Henderson County Chamber and sit in on their Education Committee. I also help the Henderson County Education Foundation and support and volunteer with some of the local schools. Recently, I became a part of the Foundation Board of Park Ridge Hospital for 2016.
MC: What do you enjoy most about being a Board Member? 
J: I enjoy seeing, helping, and brainstorming with the hearts that help SGH grow. 
MC: What keeps you involved with SGH?
J: The Angels at SGH..from the children to the staff. Every time I hear someones story, it makes me feel blessed to be a part of it. I am hooked! 
Welcome to SGH!
Welcome to our newest team member!

"Hi i'm Sophia Greco! I moved to Asheville this past October from Charleston, SC where I worked as a in-home ABA therapists for two years. I am now a behavior technician in the Grotto Center and I am very excited to work alongside some of the best co-workers and families I have ever met! In my free time I love to hike, be with my family, and cook!"
Feed the Need
November 30, 2015 - February 19, 2016
Feed the Need [FTN] is an exciting pre-vocational training program for young adults and teens with Autism helping to prepare them for the working world. FTN focuses on vocational, social, and daily-living skills that are not usually taught in a typical classroom setting. The program is open to individuals age 14 and up!

Our GARDEN Program uses a seed-to-sale philosophy, allowing participants to be involved in every aspect of an agribusiness.  At the Garden we work on individual goals that are established through direct observations as well as participant and family interviews. This program focuses on global pre-vocational skills and involves community outings and participation of guess speakers.  This is a great program for someone who is just starting out on their journey to employment as the garden offers a wide range of general work skill building.  Our participants get to learn the ins and outs of growing produce sustainably and organically while learning where our food comes from.
CULINARY: Feed the Need Culinary Training program is a year-round after school training program that allows teens and young adults with autism learn how to cook, prepare, and serve food as well as many other important social and daily living skills. This exciting new program specifically focuses on the skills needed to work in any or most organizations that involve food prep and serving such as: hosting, serving, busing, cleaning, food prep and storage, cooking and catering.  Experienced culinary instructors are working alongside SGH staff to ensure every participant is learning at their own pace and making progress. 
For more information about Feed the Need, please call Julia Matthews (828) 693-4223.
We serve a variety of age groups through our multiple programs. St. Gerard House is a great place to volunteer for learning opportunities.
    We currently need volunteers in the following areas:  
  • Administrative help answering the phone Tuesdays 2 - 3 pm.
  • Childcare help at Family Group Night once a month (3rd Monday of the month from 5 -7:30pm)
  • Planning Fundraising Events
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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