New Autism Support Group to Launch through Grant from Community First Credit Union | Business

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New Autism Support Group to Launch through Grant from Community First Credit Union
New Autism Support Group to Launch through Grant from Community First Credit Union

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Parents of autistic children will soon have a supportive environment in which to share their feelings, ideas and treatment options, thanks to a $1000 Investing In You grant from Community First Credit Union. The grant will help launch The S.T.A.R. group, named for the benefits the group will bring its members: support, teaching, advocacy and respect.

“Caring for a child with autism is an unknown territory for most parents,” said The S.T.A.R. Group creator Liz Zurn. “My husband and I felt very alone when our son was diagnosed, but we made a pact that our family would adjust and provide him with the best opportunities to grown and learn. The S.T.A.R. Group will help other families do the same.”

Zurn has partnered with Little Star Center, a non-profit school providing education and behavioral services to children diagnosed with autism and other developmental delays, to help her launch the support group. The S.T.A.R. group plans on holding its monthly meetings at Crosswater Community Church in Nocatee beginning this September. The grant will provide educational materials for parents and fund specialized training for childcare volunteers who will attend to the children during the support group meetings.

“Families with special-needs children have special needs themselves,” said John Hirabayashi, CEO of Community First Credit Union. “The S.T.A.R. Group will provide these parents with a forum to discuss the challenges that come with raising an autistic child and give them the opportunity to lean on each other for strength.”

The S.T.A.R. Group is the fifth winner of six grants that are available through the 2012 Investing in Youcampaign. The initiative launched in April inviting anyone with an idea to make the First Coast a better place to participate. The credit union awards $1,000 every two weeks for 90 days, with the last winner being chosen July 13. Semi-finalists are chosen based on which ideas receive the most “likes,” with a panel selecting the winners that will receive grant funding from Community First. Entries for the remaining grant can be submitted through Community First’s Facebook page.

Learn more about The S.T.A.R. Group, vote on the next winner or contribute your own idea on the Community First Facebook page, or

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