Autumn was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from Gannon University with her Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2010. She fell in love with missions when she went on her first international mission trip to Mexico when she was 12. Autumn has been serving at the Miriam Center in Haiti as Therapy Coordinator since 2009. Her mission and vision is to make the Invisible…Visible through Christ…Children…Community…To fight for and advocate for the needs and rights of special needs children in Haiti…and to empower nationals and families to care for these children as God would. 4 years later she branched out her ministry to include educating and training nationals in the field of Therapy (Occupational and Physical Therapy) partnering with the only Rehab Tech school in Haiti. 2 years later she partnered with the first bachelor level OT program that opened in Leogane, Haiti to establish and open the National Haiti Association of Occupational Therapy where she is currently the President and Alternate Delegate. This association was a pre-requisite to getting national accreditation for the university through the World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT). Her dream is that every child with special needs in Haiti would receive the therapy and support that they need and deserve because they are VISIBLE and VALUED as members of their society; that nationals would be trained and equipped to be therapists; and that therapy would be recognized as a medical necessity and thus be integrated into Haiti’s medical systems.
Her passion for Haiti and children with special needs happened on her first mission trip to Haiti in 2007. During that trip her heart hurt when she discovered how children and adults with any type of disability were seen as worthless, cursed, possessed, and therefore were often abandoned, left to die, or ostracized from their communities. The children whose families chose to keep them never got the opportunity to go to school, rarely had friends and many times were malnourished, and rarely got outside their homes. Families who chose to keep their children with disabilities were looked down upon. They were seen as the reason why their child was disabled because they must have done something wrong, and often they as a family were ostracized from their community. As an Occupational Therapist, Autumn saw the potential that each of these children had. She saw children ready to thrive. She saw walls that needed to be broken down so these INVISIBLE children would become VISIBLE.
Autumn currently raises funds for and runs 2 programs and hopes to use these 2 programs as a blueprint to replicate across Haiti.
- Therapy Residential Program– This is a therapy clinic in northwest Haiti that runs to provide customized weekly 1:1 and daily group therapy to the 37 children who live at the Miriam Center.
- Therapy Outreach Program– Outreach is a multi-faceted program that exists to help families who have children with special needs in the community to feel empowered to care for, advocate for and raise their children with special needs. The goal is that they know they are not alone but have a support system and family within the outreach program. She prays that each family will grow in their wisdom and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and have a better understanding of how God loves them and their children. She strives so that each child will receive specialized quality education & medical care to address their unique needs (medical, nutrition, therapy, etc.). Ultimately the goal is that each child will participate in their family and community to their fullest ability. This is done by filling in the gaps where the families need them:
- Physically: nutritional food, therapy , medical care, schooling, etc.
- Spiritually: weekly worshiping and praying together as a group and then during home visits getting specific prayer requests
- Emotionally: by building a community and support system among other families in the same situation.
God has opened doors for Autumn to expand beyond her Therapy clinic and first outreach center in the northwest zone of Haiti to include:
- Partnering with various organizations across Haiti providing training to existing professionals and organizations seeking to help or improve their work with children with special needs
- Training and educating nationals through being a professor at the therapy universities
- Helping open new outreach centers and therapy clinics across Haiti so that more children receive needed services
- Training on building equipment out of resources that can be found in Haiti.
- Developing Occupational Therapy (OT) as a medical profession recognized and utilized in Haiti.
Home Church: New Bedford Evangelical Presbyterian Church, New Bedford PA
For more information you visit her blog: www.autumnsreflections.blogspot.com