We are grateful for our Villa family members, volunteers, and staff who have been willing to share their own personal Villa story with us. Scroll down to read some of the wonderful things they have said about Villa. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where we share testimonials like these as well as inspiring stories and updates regularly! If you would like to share your Villa story, we would love to hear it! Please contact Lindsey Harrison, at LHarrison@VillaEsperanzaServices.org or Tel: (626) 449-2919 ext. 162 to share your story.
VILLA DIMENSIONS PROGRAM:
Austin began his Villa journey 24 years ago as a preschooler at Villa School with severe autism. Today, Austin has returned to Villa and is thriving in the Dimensions Adult Day Program. His mother Debby describes: “Coming back to Villa is like a homecoming. Austin needs his own identity, peer group, and increased independence, which he has at Villa. He can’t wait to leave the house each morning to attend Villa's Dimensions program. As soon as he gets home, he is already packing his backpack for the next day. Returning to Villa gives us all a sense of peace and confidence that Austin’s future will continue to be bright and that he will always be cared for, valued, and loved.” Austin is pictured with mom Debby and dad Juan at last year’s fundraising gala.
Nature-Watch President Harold Gordon and CEO Jeff Salzman (pictured 2nd and 3rd from the left) have created a mutually beneficial relationship with Villa by providing employment for Villa clients. “It's been a terrific relationship and I think we all feel it has been a true ‘win-win,’” shares Nature-Watch’s Salzman. “Villa’s clients work hard, they do great work, and they are an absolute joy to work with. We've seen their work and life skills grow and develop through this process. We feel very fortunate to work with Ariel, Juliana, Raluca and Michelle each day.” To commemorate the 10 year anniversary of our partnership in 2016, Jeff, Harold, Villa clients, job coaches (current and former), management and executive team members joined together for a cake celebration.
VILLA SCHOOL STUDENT:
Villa parent Sandy shares: “Mason was diagnosed with autism at age 2. Despite early intervention services and everyone’s best efforts, Mason could't adapt to a public school environment. He came to Villa as a 2nd grader and was immediately calmer due to the smaller, quieter environment, caring staff, and structured program. This allowed him to spend energy on learning instead of simply surviving through an overstimulating environment. He can participate in classroom routines and has learned to use a communication device. Although Mason continues to experience challenges related to his autism, he also is able to grow when given the proper support and surrounded by people who believe in him. In working closely with Villa, our family has regained hope for Mason's future.”
Susie works at Wynn House, one of Villa's residential homes. “The ladies at the Wynn House are fun and very loving,” Susie commented. “When I learned that the ladies enjoyed watching ‘I Love Lucy,’ I knew I belonged!” Susie noted that her favorite moments are the everyday moments shared with the ladies. “The good times that we share together make it all worthwhile! I love just dancing around the house with them. It’s fun, great exercise, and we laugh a lot.” Jackie, one of the Wynn House ladies, didn’t hesitate when asked what she liked about Susie. “Susie makes good breakfasts and we go for a walk every Friday,” she said. “She is there whenever I need her.” With tears in her eyes, Susie responded, “Truly, this job is very rewarding in so many ways. I feel very blessed.”
VILLA ADP AND RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS: SANDY
Sandy has been with Villa for many years. She started as a part of the Adult Day Program (ADP) and later also moved in to the Chester House, a Villa group home. With ADP, she volunteers at local nonprofits and earned an Outstanding Community Service Award from the Los Angeles County Commission for Older Adults for her efforts. Her sisters, Mary and Donna volunteer their time at Villa’s two major fundraisers each year. Mary recently spoke at Villa’s Tournament of Hope, sharing the profound effect Villa has had on their family. “We honestly don’t know where we’d be without Villa. It gives us great comfort to know our sister is in good hands, and Villa is our family.”
Brothers Raphael and Michael volunteered at the Villa School over the summer. During that time, they helped Villa School students with a variety of activities such as arts and crafts, playing catch, and reading stories. Med student Raphael reflects, “The kids are teaching us, too, just by being in their presence.” Michael, who is planning to major in psychology at LMU, agrees. “I appreciate that the experience is hands-on. I can have meaningful encounters beyond reading a textbook, and that’s really enriching.”
RAPHAEL AND MICHAEL
VILLA SCHOOL STUDENT:
Eleven-year-old Natalie has made great strides in her time at Villa School, where she has learned to communicate with her eye gaze device. Eye tracking and eye control technology enable Natalie to connect like never before. Natalie’s mom Krystal shares, “She’s accomplished a lot. Before I would need to guess what she wanted and now she is communicating with us. She likes music. She likes Justin Timberlake and the color pink. I’m really happy with how she is growing and in every area Villa has been awesome. Villa is like family. They support me and treat Natalie like she is one of their own kids.”
VILLA SCHOOL STUDENT:
Josiah's mother Jeana shares these lovely words about his experience thus far: “Josiah has been at Villa since he was 5 years old. He's now 13 and will be transitioning to high school next year. Josiah has had and continues to have a wonderful, fulfilling experience at Villa! Villa means everything to us in terms of Josiah receiving the best education in an environment that suits him very well. We love all the teachers and staff at Villa, and we know Josiah does too! It's very comforting to know that he's with people who love him and love what they do. We are very grateful!” Josiah is pictured posing with the painting he helped create for Villa's Blue & White gala art gallery.