Monday, February 8, 2016

Chasin' our Dream: Celebrating a DECADE of Service!


The Dream began...

In the fall of 2005 my son Chase was 6, and in his second year of public school, attending a mild-ESE program for K-2.  I had already been through early intervention, neurology appointments, IEP meetings, and just recently, an evaluation with a pediatric neuro-psychologist.  I was exhausted and dissatisfied with my son's progress and with the professionals who handled him; most had never seen anyone like him.   It was agreed that he had Hi-Functioning Autism, and that he would be best served in an environment that specialized in Autism.  But where was that program in Volusia County?  Nowhere.

One day, my best-friend (Amy Filson) and I - both public school teachers - sat around and just brainstormed what WE would do if we could make a school for Chase.  Pretty soon, we were excited enough to start writing it down, and together with the help of my sister (Eileen Taft), we created a full business plan.  We created The Chase Academy, Inc., registered it as a non-profit in February of 2006, and The Chase Academy was born!!

        For the next three years, we would hold town hall meetings, recruit interested parents to help us find funding and a facility, and raised awareness among the Volusia County communities for autism, and our kids' educational needs. We also secured our 501(c)3 status, got approval to be a McKay school, and began searching for a team!  Luckily, in 2009 we were able to start a two-classroom program inside a church right here in South Daytona, with 9 children and PLENTY of parent volunteers; and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our first class of students
       We began as K-5 program, and grew one grade level a year.  Now, we hold K-10th grade, and with our accreditation process beginning hope to have an accredited K-12 program by this time next year!

But we haven't stopped dreaming...

     We have MORE plans, more growth, more dreams for The Chase Academy, and with it, we hope to build programs that will support our children through childhood and into adulthood.  This year we've seen phenomenal growth in enrollment, and the start of our sister organization CHASE Therapies.  Through this pair of non-profits we can better address the academic, social, and therapeutic needs of our children - a more holistic approach, if you will.  

     One of my favorite quotes is Ghandi's, "Become the change you wish to see in the world."  But more often I quote singer Melissa Etheridge, who sings, "When you become the change you seek, YOU change what happens tomorrow."  We never stop dreaming.  We never stop driving the change we want to see in the world.  

     Check with us in another decade and I promise you'll find that we solidified more than a few of these dreams and went on to dream some more.

Mimi Lundell

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