The HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program supports the development of high-school based social and community life skills activities designed to meet the needs of High School Students living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Structured in the form of a grant, the HDS Foundation encourages high school ESE Departments to create school-based programs that provide opportunities year-round for social, independence, community and personal development to teens who are on the Autism Spectrum or have other related disabilities.
One of the recipients of the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Grant is Cypress Bay High School. Each year students visit local businesses for Community-Based Instruction (CBI). CBIs create an opportunity for the students to be exposed to different careers and hear firsthand about the job and the skill sets that are required to be successful. As a signature HDS Foundation program, the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Lunch & Learn is hosted by HDS Companies each year. When surveyed for areas of career interest, the students requested IT and Networking, News Producer, and Aviation/Pilot. On April 25th in collaboration with our community partners HDS Companies hosted the entire class and the students were able to explore different career paths and environments in the selected fields through a Speakers Bureau Presentation followed by Q & A.
We were joined by Nelly Rubio, who retired early this year following a 29 career as Director of Community Relations of the CBS Miami TV Stations. During her tenure with CBS, she was responsible for overseeing the local stations sponsorship of events and campaigns, public service announcements, community relations, and other community issues. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, Nelly founded the station’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors disaster relief program. That project evolved into what is now Neighbors 4 Neighbors, a non-profit organization housed at the Station since 1992 that has continued to link people in need with those willing to help.
Another speaker who came out to share his career experiences was Captain Rogelio “Roger” Figueroa, who has served for 23 years as a Boeing 757/767 Captain for UPS, based at Miami International Airport. He is a 1984 AFROTC commissioned officer from Detachment 155, University of Miami, FL; after completing undergraduate studies at Florida International University. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB. Flying assignments include B-52H Aircraft Commander, 9th Bombardment Sqd, Carswell AFB, Tx, and HH-60 Blackhawk Pilot, 301st Rescue Sqd, Patrick AFB, FL. Since 1999, Col Figueroa has represented the AF Academy and AFROTC as an Admissions Liaison Officer throughout South Florida. In 2010, Col Figueroa served as Director of Training, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Kabul, Afghanistan. He is a graduate of Air War College, as well as earning a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Texas Christian University, Tx. Decorations include Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal. He has been married for 30 years to former Aracely Martinez; together they have two children, Elizabeth and Roger(aka RJ).
One of the event’s highlights was a presentation by the HDS Foundation ASDY tech micro-business staff also joined in at the Lunch & Learn where they shared their journeys from High School to College and employment. It was very well received by the students, who got a glimpse into what the future hold for them. Altogether it was a fantastic experience for everyone who participated. For all of us at HDS, the best part was seeing the Cypress Bay High School students interacting with the presenters, ASDY and HDS staff, and Board Directors. We look forward to continuing this annual tradition for year to come.
As National Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, we joined The Dan Marino Foundation (DMF) in support of their Pedal for Autism Fun Ride, and the 2nd Annual DMF Autism Awareness Block Party, brought to you by HDS Companies. The event brought together over one hundred cyclists with the message of Autism Awareness and Inclusion, as well as community resources that provide services for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Organizations and companies such as the Autism Society of Broward County, UM-NSU CARD, Broward County Libraries, CARD, Artists with Autism, Walgreens, Big 1059, and Made in Broward hosted booths at the resource fair. During the event, City of Fort Lauderdale District 2 Commissioner, Steve Glassman presented Mary Partin, CEO at DMF with a Proclamation recognizing National Autism Awareness Month. Marino Campus Students and Alumni had a great time interacting with each other, and event participants during the celebration.
The Dan Marino Foundation’s mission of “Empowering individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities,” aligns with the HDS Foundation’s mission, “To provide mentoring services and opportunities to Teens and Young Adults who have Autism-related disabilities.” The Dan Marino Foundation, a non-profit organization was established by Miami Dolphins Alumni Quarterback, Dan Marino and his wife Claire, who were motivated by their experiences in raising their son, Michael, who is diagnosed with autism. For over 27 years, the Foundation has been a leader in innovation and change. The DMF has raised more than $75 million to create unique and impactful initiatives in the community. Among these first-of-their-kind initiatives are the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Outpatient Center, the Marino Autism Research Institute, Marino Adapted Aquatics, Summer STEPS Employment Programs, Virtual Interactive Training Agent Program (ViTA-DMF), and now post-secondary programs at both Marino Campus in Broward and at FIU in Miami-Dade.
HDS Companies has been a supporter of The Dan Marino Foundation for over ten years. Like the Marino Family, our Founder and CEO, Cristina Miranda Gilson, was motivated to give back to the Autism Community by her experiences raising her daughter Kate who is on the Autism Spectrum. Inspired by Kate’s journey, Cristina and her daughter Meagan founded the HDS Foundation. We are committed to supporting organizations who are working to mentor, teach and support, thereby enriching the lives of individuals with ASD. HDS Companies didn’t just sponsor the DMF Autism Awareness Block Party, Cristina Miranda Gilson together with our HDS Foundation Board Directors, Meagan Bouscher, Kate Gilson Miranda, Paloma Miranda, and Elena Miranda, joined our workforce volunteer group, the HDS Contenders and our HDS ASDY-Tech Team who we employ and are graduates of the DMF MOS Certificate Program and together, we volunteered at Game, Art, and Resource stations throughout the day. Supporting community events such as the DMF Block Party and the Pedal for Autism FUN Ride–initiative helps create opportunities for young adults on the Autism Spectrum. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with DMF to bring greater awareness and support to the South Florida ASD community.
The HDS Foundation spent the last days of Autism Awareness Month celebrating at the Dan Marino Foundation Pedal for Autism Block Party at their main campus in Fort Lauderdale this past Sunday. Families were able to come out and connect with others, participate in games, listen to music, eat good food and #Pedalforautism. HDSF helped to sponsor and exhibit during their ride and fitness expo, along with many other organizations in our community who hold this cause near to their heart 🧩😎🚲🎉#hds4autism #hdsf #dmf #pedalforautism Dan Marino Foundation Rixys Alfonso Walgreens Made in Broward