Melissa's Story: Autism, Jewelry and Making a Difference
December 12, 2011
My name is Melissa Winter and I have two boys: Max, 7, and Sam, 4. Three years ago I saw a need in my community to raise money and awareness about autism, so I launched an organization called The Puzzling Piece that could fill that need. Since then, I’ve been able to help families like mine and the nonprofit organizations that serve them.
After the crying was over, my husband Brett and I realized we needed to make some changes to help Max. A lot more therapy was needed! Brett and I did a lot of research and found that being outdoors, doing, seeing, touching and, yes, playing would be some of the best therapy we could give Max. So, we decided to move from New Jersey to South Florida. The sun and warmer weather meant more time on the playgrounds and in the pool. The additional time Max could play and smile was exactly what I wanted from the move. After a full day of school and more hard work at therapy, an hour of fun in the pool would be the best part of our day.We also found a terrific school for Max to attend that specialized in helping children with autism and related disabilities.
We were looking for a place that would focus on his development and help him thrive in society. We became very involved with the school and wanted to do our part with fundraising. I decided to put my jewelry design degree to work, which is how I came to create The Puzzling Piece. The puzzle piece is a widely recognized symbol of autism, so I designed a hand blown glass puzzle piece necklace, had it packaged in a small gift bag and brought it to the executive director of the school. She loved it! We used it as a fundraiser and it was a success! Our school of 85 children sold 147 necklaces in a week and a half! Everyone got involved from the teachers, to the parents and even the board members of the school. My goal at The Puzzling Piece is to raise awareness of autism.
Topics:Living with Autism
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