It’s been two years since Daytona Beach native Patricia Potts joined the Easterseals Northeast Central Florida family as a volunteer, and she continues to be a proud part of the organization.
Patricia is a virtual “Jill of All Trades” in her weekly volunteer role in the Easterseals Autism Center of Excellence, handling everything from filing therapy notes to updating medical records. She assists staff with making copies, keeps tabs on important office supplies and equipment and organizes information packets about Easterseals, among many other tasks.
Patricia’s love of Easterseals and organizations that assist children with disabilities blossomed at an early age. Her heart was forever changed by early interactions with them, so when it came time for her to seek volunteer work, she returned to support their missions.
“When I was a little girl growing up in Daytona Beach, my grandmother worked at a school for children with physical and mental disabilities,” said Patricia. “My school was next door, so I walked over after school and waited for my grandmother to get off work before we walked home together.
“During that time, I attended many field trips with grandma and the school’s teachers and children,” she continued. “I made friends with the students; we walked and talked and played games together. I was curious about them. I think that even as a child I knew I was seeing children who many other children never even knew about. It always has left a special place in my heart.”
Patricia is particularly impressed by the role Easterseals plays in supporting families of children with autism.
“I believe Easterseals’ work with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is especially important in our community,” she said. “Under Dorothy (Lefford)’s direction, the therapists and everyone involved have so many resources to assist children with autism.”
One of her favorite events at Easterseals Northeast Central Florida is World Autism Day.
“World Autism Day at Easterseals the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen,” remarked Patricia. “Educated people from all over come to this event and offer their time and expertise to help parents, grandparents, guardians, family members and friends who are affected by autism. I encourage everyone to take part!”
Patricia said supporting the staff is her goal in volunteering at Easterseals.
“I want to help them have a good day at work,” she said, “and take a little stress off their day.”
Each year, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida serves more than 500 children who have been diagnosed with ASD. The nonprofit agency also operates the Autism Center of Excellence – a one-stop center for diagnosis, interventions and case management for children who were referred by their physician for evaluation of ASD. To learn more about Easterseals’ autism services, visit http://www.easterseals.com/necfl/our-programs/. For questions about the free autism screenings, please call 386-944-7815 or email Davine Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org.