Newsletter – November 2023

Family Fun Night

Annual Family Fun Night is an opportunity for residents to welcome their loving and supportive families to an evening that gives them a taste of community life at First Place–Phoenix. Everyone gathered around Joey’s Grill outside for great food and played games in the Cox Community Room before ending the evening by our Thunderbirds Charities Sports Pool for s’mores and hot cocoa. Thank you, First Place families and staff, for making this another fun annual night to remember!

Vote the Spectrum Momentum

Excitement continues to build from the #VoteTheSpectrum launch at SARRC’s 2023 Yes Day for Autism last month. Thank you to everyone who has already joined the movement! If you haven’t yet, visit votethespectrum.org, register to vote and register your interest in making a difference.

December LNCS Focus: Living with Severe Autism

Learn more about December’s LNCS session featuring Amy Lutz, Ph.D. She will discuss the realities of severe autism and share insights from her new book, Chasing the Intact Mind.

Amy Gravino—autism sexuality advocate, consultant and relationship coach—gave an important and engaging presentation on healthy relationships, sex and dating during this November's LNCS session. Amy was featured in the award-winning 2021 documentary about autism, In a Different Key. Drawing on her own lived experiences, Amy shared tips and strategies for empowering families to address sexuality and disability, puberty and dating, along with other relevant topics.

First Place Community Life Alive and Well!

  • Residents found that maxi things come from making mini pumpkin pies together for Thanksgiving: flavorful filling, friendship and, most important, fun!
  • The holidays are a great time to remember those in need. This month, residents and staff spent an afternoon at St. Mary’s Food Bank packing meal boxes for families across Arizona.

November was Native American Heritage Month. This gave First Place–Phoenix residents all the inspiration they needed on a recent visit to S'edav Va'aki Museum in Phoenix. Everyone left with a greater sense of appreciation and respect.

It may have rained the night before, but that didn’t stop an intrepid bunch of residents from hitting the trail in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve with First Place volunteer Marla Weiss, who always makes hiking fun and inclusive.

GivingTuesday Gives a Chance for Gratitude

To shine a bright light on GivingTuesday, we expressed—and continue to express—our gratitude to everyone who supports independent living at First Place–Phoenix and the transformative efforts of the First Place Global Leadership Institute. This includes dear friends and First Place champions Judy Ackerman and Richard Epstein, whose generosity and vision have helped fund activities of the ever-popular Adventure Club, a year-round resident favorite. We are forever grateful!

Insights on Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Natasha Grant Holmberg, MNLM, CESP, First Place AZ director of workplace and community inclusion, recently weighed in on avoiding stereotyping neurodiverse individuals in a blog published by the Mastercard Newsroom. Read what attendees learned at Mastercard’s early-November Neurodiversity in the Workplace Summit at its St. Louis Tech Hub about the struggles, productivity and potential of the neurodivergent population. 

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