The time that you all have been waiting for has finally arrived!!! During the last few weeks, the HDS Foundation has been putting in hard work, day and night, to make sure we have a new and improved Resource Page for YOU!
The Foundation’s primary mission is to provide resources for families, and organizations who Mentor, Teach, Develop, and Support individuals on the Autism Spectrum and beyond. With that being said, we have decided to create a “Toolbox for Success” to assist other parents and caregivers of teens and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder or related disabilities in pursuing their transitional journey. The “Toolbox for Success” equips the student, parents, and families with the necessary tools and supports that will help prepare them for a smooth transition.
We essentially have the resources grouped in the same categories as the tools from the toolkit. These categories include:
- Advocacy & Policy
- Community Services
- Family Focused Organizations
- Post Secondary Education
- Social, Health, and Wellness
- Transitional Resources
For more information, click on the Resources tab above or please contact Liz Falk, HDS Foundation, Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (954) 217-9597, ext. 260.
As Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, we continue to shine a light on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the possibilities that they create through their differing abilities. Throughout the month, HDS Foundation has shared community resources, stories about our grantees, and profiled a young adult who was part of our ASDY-Tech Employment Program.
While many of our Community-Based Instruction events for our grantee B.R.I.D.G.E.S. programs at Cypress Bay High School and Homestead Senior High School had to be canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our students have been participating in our program virtually via Zoom Communications. Our teachers are hosting virtual mock job interviews and require for students to get dressed up just like they would for an in-person interview. Students have been learning how to complete job applications and resume building.
The HDS Foundation’s unique niche focus is on aiding young adults to make the transition from high school to post-secondary education, gainful employment, and independent living. The Foundation recently launched a new program called Toolbox for Success. This multi-level tool helps ASD families by providing resources for the many complex components involved with transitioning autistic teens and young adults. These components range from communication, personal appearance, social skills, situational skills, dressing appropriately, educational qualifications, and job skills. The information is pared down, helping parents to pick and choose the components that their child can work through at his or her level.
Our HDS Companies has also participated in raising awareness during Autism Awareness Month. We lit-up the exterior of our Miami Lakes Corporate Offices in Blue, and our team members wore Blue on World Autism Awareness Month. We invite you to view the Latin Business Today interview with Cristina Miranda Gilson, CEO of HDS Companies and founder of the HDS Foundation. During the interview, Cristina shared her views, HDSF resources, as well as her personal experiences raising her daughter, who is a thriving young woman attending the University of North Florida and living independently on campus.
To view the interview of our CEO, Cristina Miranda Gilson, with Latin Business Today on this matter, click here or follow us on social media!
A New World of Challenges and Opportunities Lies Ahead for Autistic Youths Transitioning to Adulthood
In 2018, HDS Companies (HDS) spearheaded an autism-focused employment initiative, ASDY-Tech (Autism Spectrum Disorder Youth-Tech). Inspired by our CEO, Cristina Miranda Gilson, who has an autistic daughter, the program focuses on work abilities, team-building projects, and skills assessment. It provides opportunities for young adults to work in the Affordable Housing and Community Development Tech Industry.
At HDS, we embrace diversity and inclusion. We launched this initiative to create meaningful employment opportunities. We hired young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who graduated with industry certifications from The Dan Marino Foundation’s Marino Campus. Once we established the program, we found a need within our eHousingPlus Business Division. And, for the last two years, the ASDY-Tech team has been working on the implementation of eHP Digital Docs, our new state-of-the-art Compliance File Delivery and Deficiencies Portal. More than just a digital file repository, the new eHP Digital Docs portal is a workflow system focused on bringing transparency and efficiency to the program and Compliance Administration.
Social interaction, communication, and working as part of a team can be challenging for people with ASD. In today’s job climate, companies looking to hire talent for tech-industry related jobs are finding that those with ASD have a unique set of skills. They are extremely detail-oriented, highly analytical, and can focus firmly on the tasks at hand, making them an integral part of any team. Through the ASDY-Tech program, we helped leverage the natural skill sets this group of emerging workers possesses and provided them with opportunities and tools to learn and acquire additional technical, organization, and creative skills. Here, were share the experience from one of the ASDY members.
On a typical day, twenty-five-year-old City of Weston resident Miguel walks through the doors at HDS with a big smile on his face. He heads to the ASDY-Tech office, greeting his co-workers while he gets his workday started. His daily workload consists of prepping, scanning, and shredding files.
Like many other young adults with ASD, Miguel felt a big change happening in his life during his transition from Cypress Bay High School to a post-secondary program. Throughout his transition, Miguel received supports from his parents and family members, as well as from Vocational Rehabilitation. He attended a post-secondary program offered by The Dan Marino Foundation, earning an Internet Core Competency Certification. After graduating from Marino Campus, Miguel’s first job was at a local law firm, where he scanned legal documents creating digital records. He then worked as a Camp Counselor and to this day, holds a part-time job at the Nautica store in the Sawgrass Mills Mall.
Miguel has had to learn to overcome social challenges, like improving on making eye contact, and adapting to the changing landscape of the workplace. He shares that taking the initiative, focusing on the tasks at hand, being confident, and completing his projects on-time are his biggest strengths. When he is not at work, Miguel enjoys reading books, watching movies, and walking outdoors. His advice to the students getting ready to graduate from high school is, stay calm and look forward to the next chapter of possibilities coming to your life. As for Miguel, he is embracing new opportunities and is headed back to school.
The impact of the ASDY-Tech employment initiative has strengthened HDS’ commitment to our products and services, improved morale, and heightened our overall productivity. We are already planning the second phase of our program. We have begun meeting with community leaders such as the local Public Defender and his team to asses collaboration opportunities and take ASDY-Tech to the NextGen.
The HDS Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit Organization founded to provide mentoring services and opportunities to teens and young adults who have Autism-related disabilities—launched in 2008 by Founder and Chairman, Cristina Gilson-Miranda, the organization funds several initiatives, including the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. GRANT. The purpose of the Grant is to address the social and transitional needs of a niche group of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are seeking to navigate through high school and transition to a post-secondary journey. Through the Grant, the HDS Foundation partners with local high schools to identify candidates who are under-served in these areas. The Foundation provides them with financial and community-based resources along with support that enables the teachers and students to engage in activities they typically would not be able to access. These activities are separate and distinct from those provided by the school system, also known as Community Based Instruction (CBI) trips.
The B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Grant provides specialized programming that offers interactive community and school-based activities. These provide real-life experiences that help students who are on the Autism Spectrum transitioning from high school into post-secondary. Through the Grant, facilitators and teachers of the program receive extra funds that allow the students to engage in non-typical school activities. These include organized community-based trips that teach students the importance of budgeting, resources, independent functioning, development, growth, empowerment, and social skill. During these trips, students will make their own purchases, dine out, and engage in typical social activities with individuals of their peerage. The grant funds also support typical school-based parties, prom, and any other related activities that are not funded by the school system and greatly benefit this specific population.
The Grant is structured as an annual application, available by mid to late January of each year. Schools must submit the grant request by April 28th, and the Foundation will award it by May 15th. The Grant maximum is $5,000 per school year; it is disbursed with part of the funds awarded at the student level. This process creates an exclusive learning opportunity for shopping, eating out, etc. which are vital to the budgeting component of the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program.
To apply for the BRIDGES GRANT, please click on the link below:
For more information, please contact Liz Falk, HDS Foundation, Program Manager at email@example.com or call-954-217-9597, ext. 260.
Cristina Miranda Gilson is the Founder and CEO of HDS Companies. A passionate Philanthropist, Cristina has been an active supporter of numerous charitable initiatives throughout her life. Inspired through her journey raising her daughters, she has been an avid supporter and outspoken advocate for the Autism Community for more than twenty years. In 2008, Cristina founded the HDS Foundation and proudly serves as the Chairman and President of the organization.
The HDS Foundation is the driving force behind the numerous charitable efforts of Cristina Miranda Gilson, and HDS Companies. The Foundation encapsulates Cristina’s passion for supporting the Autism Community through collaboration that brings together programs and resources, as well as HDS Companies’ commitment to pursuing corporate social responsibility initiatives in the communities in which we live, work, and learn. The Foundation’s primary mission is to provide resources for families, and organizations who Mentor, Teach, Develop, and Support individuals on the Autism Spectrum and beyond.
Cristina and her daughter, Kate Miranda Gilson, have personally experienced the journey of transitioning from high school to a successful post-secondary education. After this experience, Cristina decided to create a “Toolbox for Success” to assist other parents and caregivers of teens and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder or related disabilities in pursuing their transitional journey.
The “Toolbox for Success” equips the student, parents, and families with the necessary tools and supports that will help prepare them for a smooth transition. Cristina’s vision is that by utilizing the toolbox, teens and young adults will be able to successfully plan their journey into adulthood with the assistance of their parents or caregivers and strengthen their chances for meaningful, long-term employment, and a self-sufficient life.
The “Toolbox for Success” covers the categories listed below:
- Parents and Families
- Support System
- Strengths and Interests
- Community Resources
Our Resources Page is currently under construction. The HDS Foundation is working hard to update all information to have an abundance of resources readily available for you! Stay tuned for more information on when the page will be available again.
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