By Denise D. Resnik, Founder & President/CEO
Remember your firsts? Sure you do. That first love—and broken heart. Your first job and home—and all that followed to help you learn and grow.
During Autism Acceptance Month, I’m reminded of those who have made so many firsts possible over the years for our family at home, as well as First Place–Phoenix and the Global Leadership Institute.
As First Place AZ leaps into its second decade, the charitable nonprofit does so with greater confidence, capacity and collaboration. Together with trusted tri-sector leaders, including SARRC, we are setting the bar higher for how individuals learn, live and thrive as we fuel a new era of housing and community development for people with autism and other neurodiversities—in Arizona, throughout North America and around the world.
Through training and curricula, model properties and programs, data collection and impact analysis, we’re identifying what’s working—and what needs to work better. And through trusted champions across the U.S., we’re pursuing scalable, replicable and financially sustainable models, recognizing authentic community building happens locally and organically.
Our supportive community has opened doors and connected us with both like-minded and divergent organizations. It has enabled us to dream, innovate and ensure this all-too-often invisible population of adults with autism and other neurodiversities is accounted for and recognized based on needs and preferences—and not a diagnosis alone. Collaborations like those with Home Matters® to Arizona and the “Home is where it all starts” campaign encourage us to work together to address the broader housing crisis of affordability, accessibility and availability that impacts everyone.
We hope you enjoy this 2022 annual report offering insights into how individual and shared experiences express what’s possible for our loved ones. Whether a first swim, culinary delight or stage performance, we don’t experience it alone but with those who appreciate the power and potential of that first step.
Many have believed early and often in our first and next steps—and joined us in celebrating when we get it right. We’re grateful and inspired to do more!