How It All Started…
The idea for All 4 Autism began in 2009, when a few local families began a support group. Originally named The Autism Advocacy Group of Florence, they had a mission to increase awareness and support for those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Over the years, the number of affected individuals continued to grow rapidly, but support and resources were still hard to find in our area. As a result, they evaluated their purpose, adjusted the mission, set higher goals, and looked to the future. They officially changed the name to All 4 Autism in 2015, and began exploring ways to grow their efforts.
Jessica Brown met Amy Pennington through Pacing 4 Pieces, a half-marathon and 5K Run/Walk. This event was developed by Amy because of her desire to raise funds for the Autism Community, and inspired by her son, Griffin. Because of her determination, Pacing 4 Pieces was very successful and All 4 Autism’s largest source of funding.
Jessica had spent her career in the nonprofit sector, and wanted to use her experience and knowledge to begin a professional organization to meet the needs of local families. She understood the challenges and loneliness that comes with a diagnosis, especially when you live in an area with few resources and limited awareness. She pledged to do something that would help other families through their journey with autism.
In 2016, Jessica and Amy approached the Board of Directors of All 4 Autism. They shared the vision of opening an Autism Resource Center to provide a regional headquarters that offered free support services, resources and outreach events. The Board believed in their mission and voted unanimously to move forward as a professional organization that could increase services and grow outreach efforts.
Thanks to the original members of the Autism Advocacy Group of Florence, the support of our community, and the dedication of our volunteers, donors and Board of Directors, All 4 Autism fulfilled the dream of opening the Autism Resource Center of the Pee Dee on April 25, 2017. We are still the first and only resource center for autism in our region. All of our services are free and open to the public.
In a very short time, we have increased resources, support and services for local families through the following efforts:
- Advocacy Services
- Camp Saint John – our inclusive summer camp
- Pacing 4 Pieces – annual half-marathon & 5K
- Various Outreach Events
- Partnerships with Service Agencies and Community Leaders
- Awareness & Inclusion Training
- Family Consultation Services
- Monthly Trainings & Workshops
- Therapeutic Dance Therapy Camp
- Hosted Joni & Friends with CUMC – inclusion training
- Member of the FS1 Transitional Alliance Team
- Established the ASD Resource Support Program for West Florence High School
- Autism Awareness Month Proclamation by the City of Florence
- Monthly Support Group Events
- Served on the Governor’s SC Autism Task Force
- Extensive Information Services – website, email and social media platforms
- Hosted Genetic Screening with MUSC – SPARK
- Community Service Recognition by Florence City Council