Mission to educate

Published 6:41 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

The mission of the Hormel Historic Home is pretty broad, which allows us to be a part of many different initiatives. In a nutshell, we share the Hormel family legacy through hospitality, music, and education. Nine years ago that education element incorporated autism support into our programming. There was an identified need for more services for young people on the autism spectrum, and we had the space, the passionate people, and the financial support to try and meet that need. What began as a desire to be a resource for families needing support for their children in the summer has now expanded into wanting to be a resource that helps our entire community and other communities become Autism Friendly and Sensory Sensitive.

You may know that we hired Mary Barinka just over a year ago to serve as the Community Autism Resource Specialist. Her position is evolving as needs and gaps are discovered but her initial goals were as follows:

•Educating parents and community through workshops, trainings and presentations.

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•Informing with effective marketing and promotion tools.

•Collaborating with service providers, local businesses and organizations to connect those in need of services with a service provider, identify current unmet needs and future needs and develop innovative ways to meet those needs.

•Consulting with and assisting individual families in advocating for their child with ASD.

In a short time Mary has qualified 18 Austin businesses/service providers as Autism Friendly and Sensory Sensitive. These organizations make a commitment to learning about and understanding autism but they aren’t asked to change their entire operating structure. Awareness and understanding are the biggest keys to serving those with special processing needs. All Autism Friendly Austin locations are given a Tool Kit containing tangible tools that can help a person on the spectrum be more comfortable in a situation. Simple compassion and understanding and a few manipulatives can make a big impact on a person with autism.

Mary has helped families with newly diagnosed children navigate their complicated journey. We have started bi-monthly ASD Parent/Caregiver network events meant to connect and educate people. We’ve expanded our monthly respite opportunities and we are formulating plans to reach adults with autism in our community.

Our mission is broad but our goals are specific. We saw a need and we are trying to meet it. Looking back, that’s kind of what the Hormel’s did. When the YWCA needed a larger more permanent space, they were given a home. When the Girl Scouts needed a place to gather a room was added on for them. Austin is full of people and organizations striving to meet needs, and with passion, people and resources great things can happen. Thanks to all who had a hand in starting the autism programming at the Hormel Historic Home, to those who have kept it going, and to those who will continue helping us find ways to improve the lives of others.

For a complete list of Autism Friendly Locations or to learn more visit our website at www.hormelhistorichome.org/autism-programming.

History Happy Hour: “Dialogue with Walt Whitman”

Social at 5:30 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 8

Presented by Regional Historian, Author, and Actor Terry Mesch, Director Pepin County Historical Society. Mesch will present a monologue using only Walt Whitman’s own words giving listeners a unique perspective into the world of the famous author and poet. Light snacks included. Cash bar available. Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society and Friends of the Library. $5 nonmembers

Kids’ Music in Motion

10 a.m. doors open; 10:30 a.m. music, Saturday, Oct. 13

Enjoy the music of Todd Mention while engaging in interactive activities led by SarahLynn Zavoral. $2 per child ages 2-12; fre for History for Half Pints members.Snack included.