Spouses band together to raise money for autism

| April 4, 2015 | 0 Comments
Eleanore Wnendt-Juber, left, hosted a fundraiser for TIPES at her residence. The event was organized by (far right) Gillian Drake and (second from right) Maria de la Rica Aranguren. TIPES executive director, Jennifer Wyatt, and her sister, Deborah, who is clinical director are to the right of Ms. Wnendt-Juber.

Eleanore Wnendt-Juber, left, hosted a fundraiser for TIPES at her residence. The event was organized by (far right) Gillian Drake and (second from right) Maria de la Rica Aranguren. TIPES executive director, Jennifer Wyatt, and her sister, Deborah, who is clinical director are to the right of Ms. Wnendt-Juber.

When Florence Saint-Leger, president of the Heads of Mission Spouses’ Association’s (HOMSA), kicked off the group’s annual fundraising event, she imparted some conventional wisdom: “It is more fun to give than to receive,” Ms Saint-Leger, wife of the Haitian ambassador, told the group.
The event, hosted by Eleanore Wnendt-Juber, wife of the German ambassador,   was in support of TIPES (Thinking in Pictures Educational Services), a program that helps children with “pervasive developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders.” The program delivers training and programming for such students using a team-based approach.
The group heard from a pair of energetic sisters, Jennifer and Deborah Wyatt, executive director and clinical director respectively, who said one in 80 children is on the autism spectrum and that there is limited funding to help those youngsters become “productive members of society.”
Also speaking on behalf of TIPES’ good work was board member Vlasios Melessanakis, whose son, George, is a client of the program. George was diagnosed at the age of three. He told his father that when he started school, “he felt lost, different.” His parents felt uncertain and overwhelmed. As an academic, Mr. Melessanakis started reading, researching symptoms, causes, possible cures.
Government programs, he said, are lacking and they felt they had to go it alone. Until they found TIPES. Sending their son to TIPES has sometimes threatened to bankrupt the family, but, in the three years he’s been there, George has learned to read, write and do math. “He’s matured into a bright young man, with a passion for science, Lego and Star Wars.”
“George wants to be a movie director; his imagination has reached heights we never thought possible,” Mr. Melessanakis said as he described a detailed movie plot his son had invented that morning.
HOMSA hosts a fundraiser once a year. This year’s event began with a presentation at the German ambassador’s residence, with several speeches and a question and answer session. The formal presentation was followed by a reception featuring food prepared by the members of HOMSA or their staff members.
Instrumental in organizing this event were Gill Drake, wife of the British high commissioner, and Maria de la Rica Aranguren, wife of the Spanish ambassador, whom Mrs. Saint-Leger called “the busy bees.” Ms de la Rica Aranguren confirmed the amount raised that afternoon for TIPES was $3,300, but even as she offered that total, other donations continued to come in during the event. Her difficulty getting a final total was a good problem to have.
In the end, $3,670 was raised and TIPES has big plans for it. “The money will go to our trust account, which is used to offset the cost of therapy for our families,” Jennifer Wyatt said. “We are looking at running some social integration programs with some of the funds.”
Children such as George will, no doubt, thank the diplomatic spouses for their kind contributions.

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