E-Newsletter June 2019

We’re getting a new
Executive Director!

In January, our Founder & Executive Director Candy Watkins announced that she would be retiring on June 30th, 2019. Thus started the search for our new Executive Director. In March, Candy announced to the staff at A Step Ahead that David Pozolinski would be taking over on July 1st. We have all been so excited with this news! David has been at A Step Ahead as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant for 7 years. This week his new office furniture was delivered, so we thought a ribbon-cutting on his new office would be a fun way to introduce him to the world! We’ll be highlighting more about David in our next newsletter, stay-tuned to learn more about him!

2019 Field Trips

Our 2019 Field Trips have been scheduled! You can check out our Facebook Events Page for all of the details. Or download any of the flyers below for more info!

Fund Development

Contributed by Michelle Smith, Fund Development & Communications Officer

Thank you to all who attended the 2019 STAR WARS Dinner & Auction, because of YOU…It was our most successful event ever! Through the help of all our supporters, the event raised more than $75,000 for the CARES Fund, which covers the costs of uncompensated care, so every child receives the necessary therapeutic support they need.
Our vision is a community that embraces and integrates children of all abilities and treasures the unique gifts each child possesses. A Step Ahead helps over 700 children each year meet their developmental milestones and supports their parents in coping with the stress and hardship of raising a child with special needs. Some studies have shown that it can cost up to 4 times the cost of raising a child without special needs.
This event could not be successful without the generous support from all who attended, volunteers, people and businesses who donated goods and services, and our sponsors!
We deeply appreciate everyone’s commitment to A Step Ahead and for being an advocate for children with special needs!
Please like our Facebook page to stay in touch with everything we’re doing. See you next year!

The Auction Task Force Committee

If you are interested in joining the auction committee or simply sharing your family’s story to inspire other parents, please contact Michelle Smith, Fund Development and Communications Officer michelles@asapc.org.


Contributed by Jenn Black, Early Intervention Teacher
To support the development of finger strength, these strategies are offered by our Occupational Therapist, Evonne Ryken.

Finger Awareness

Imagine yourself buttoning a button, opening a pop bottle or tying your shoes.  Notice the small, separate movements each of your fingers make.  Now imagine how a newborn baby grabs your finger with the whole hand tightening its grasp in one movement.  In three or four short years, that baby will need to develop the same skilled movements that are needed to learn to button, tie and use a pencil.  To help develop the many small muscles of your child’s hands, you can play imitation games like Simon Says including the following actions:

  • Opening and closing the hands into fists
  • Wiggling each finger by itself
  • Bending all fingers at the knuckles
  • Spreading fingers apart and pulling them back together tightly
  • Moving thumbs up and down, wiggling thumbs, moving them in a circle
  • Making circles with the thumb and each fingertip in turn

Hands & Fingers

As a child learns to use his hands and fingers, the thumb side of the hand becomes the “smart” side and the little finger side becomes the “helping” side.  For example, when you write, the little finger steadies and supports the hand while the thumb, index and middle fingers work on the moving the pencil.  To increase the use and skill of the “smart” side of the hand, include these activities often in your child’s day:

  • Building with Duplos
  • Putting clothespins in a milk jug
  • Making sticker pictures
  • Eating dried cereal or raisins out of a small container such as a paper cup or yogurt container
  • Buttoning large buttons
  • Stringing beads or Fruit Loops on a shoelace
  • Putting pennies in a bank
  • Unwrapping small packages such a gum wrappers and Hershey Kisses


Contributed by the Family Resources Coordinators at A Step Ahead
Free Summer Meals for Kids

One in six children struggles with hunger and many children who rely on school meals, struggle to get enough to eat during the summer months. This fact is unacceptable to United Way of Pierce County as well as many local health and human service partners that are fighting hunger. Together, they are helping to provide kids with nutritious food at various sites during the summer months (from June 25-August 30). Click the United Way of Pierce County Logo to visit the website for more info.

Movies in the Park

Grab a blanket and your favorite lawn chair for our Movies in the Park series. We will be offering four different family friendly movies in three different parks throughout the summer on our jumbo screen.  All the movies are FREE and start at dusk. Come early to play for pre-show activities and games at 7 p.m. Concessions on site will also be available provided by Bliss Creamery and Sirius Wood Fired Pizza. Click the Movies in the Park logo to visit the website for more info

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is now Sensory Inclusive

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is now a certified Sensory Inclusive facility, registered with KultureCity. Our staff is trained, and we offer headphones, lap pads and other tools to help guests with sensory needs and challenges have the best experience at the Zoo. And you can bring your caregiver or therapist for free with a paid membership or admission: just mention it at the front gate. Click on the Point Defiance Zoo logo to visit their website for more info!

Meet Our Staff!

Contributed by Harmony McNelley, Early Intervention Teacher

Jaime Jones

Family Resources Coordinator & Early Intervention Teacher

Tell us about your background and/or education? I have been in the special education field for 20 years and have taught all ages from birth to 21 years old. My passion has always been to work with children with disabilities and their families. Since I was about 5 years old I knew I would be a special education teacher and I started my ‘experience’ as being a best friend to my cousin who has Down Syndrome. I finished my schooling at Central Washington University earning a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. Later on I completed my National Board Certification in Special Education as well.
Describe a typical “day at the office” for you? Typically you won’t find me in the office, but you will find me in my car or at my home office in Orting.  I have a dual role as an early intervention teacher as well as a Family Resources Coordinator. I see anywhere from 7 to 10 kids in their homes weekly and coordinate services for another 20+ families in Orting.
What do you like about ASAPC? Hands down, the relationships I am able to build with families is my favorite part of working at A Step Ahead. I love connecting with families on a daily basis either as their weekly teacher or their ‘go to’ as an FRC. The most amazing feeling is when I leave a home knowing that something I was able to say or do, or sometimes just listen to, has made a difference for that child or parent if even for a moment.
Anything else you want to share? I am a busy teacher/FRC as well as mom of five children ages 6 to 16 years old. My cousin, who I mentioned earlier, lives with us and is a great ‘big brother’ to my children. We live in the woods and have a total of 10 animals! When I’m not working I’m planning and doing fun things with my kids, usually outdoors.

Lesa Bauche

Early Intervention Teacher

Tell us about your background and/or education? I began volunteer work with children with special needs my senior year in high school. I knew that this was what I wanted to continue to pursue and went on to receive my degree in special education from the University of North Texas. Taking a short break between degrees, I spent a summer in Cancun, Mexico where I met my husband. We spent the next 18 years in Cancun where I tutored children both in English and academically. Missing my country and cooler weather, we settled in the Pacific Northwest. I worked as a Spanish interpreter for a while where I often interpreted for A Step Ahead. It was then that I realized how much I missed working with the children and was lucky enough to join the family at A Step Ahead as a home-based teacher.
Describe a typical “day at the office” for you? There are no typical days at the office with early intervention. Each day brings a new experience. I am on the motor team which assesses the needs of children who have been referred to A Step Ahead for evaluation. When visiting the homes of the children I see on a regular basis, there is always something new. A new word spoken, a new task mastered or just to talk about progress and concerns with the parents. Each day brings its new rewards and challenges.
What do you like about ASAPC? I love the fact that there is a variety of staff with different specialties and backgrounds all available for collaborating on new ideas or strategies. As we work most often in the homes of our children, we are given a chance to work with the whole family. It’s always fun to get brothers and sisters involved in the activities and provides a chance to apply strategies that relate to their day to day routines.

Evonne Ryken

Occupational Therapy

Tell us about your background and/or education? I earned my Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy at the University of North Dakota and my Masters in Education in 2003 from Lesley University.  I have been working as an occupational therapist for 43 years and have worked in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana and Washington.
Describe a Typical “day at the office” for you? I have the pleasure of working with children and their families during most of my work days.  The rest of the time, I am trying to keep up with the paper work!
What do you like about ASAPC? I enjoy the home based services that ASAPC provides because I can assist the families in knowing how to help their child participate in all of the family activities.  I also enjoy the collaboration with and mutual respect for other ASAPC staff.
Any funny/best stories to share? As we moved from state to state, there were always several boxes marked “Mommy’s work toys”.  It was always easy to keep my sons happy in the car because their were so many toys to keep them busy.  One night, my young son didn’t want to go to bed and offered:  “If you let me stay up late, I will let you take one of my toys to work tomorrow!”  Now I get to share my toys with my granddaughter!