A pandemic is life-changing; no one will argue with that. We are all on a roller coaster of events and it impacts our focus, passion and patience. As we ride this out together we learn that everyone has a different connection.
Let’s do this. That has been our mindset since we had to shut the doors of our center more than two months ago. And, now more than ever, it’s imperative that we strive forward with that mindset. We need to stay connected—so, “let’s do this!”
My name is Rachelle Vartanian. I am the Founder and CEO of Living and Learning Enrichment Center; an organization that specializes in the development and growth for teens and adults with autism and related challenges. Our goal is to help them live meaningful lives. Think of us as their bridge into society through the honing of social skills, employment training and placement, networking, life skills and overall relationships to survive in this crazy world.
Together we strive to better the lives of our clients, caretakers, friends, family, mentors and staff. So what happens when a global pandemic hits? How do you teach social distancing to those with whom you have been have working so hard to gather socially? It’s the antithesis of what we have been working on for so many years with our clients.
When the pandemic arrived in Michigan, the heartbreak was real—for everyone. We knew that we could not continue to provide in-person services, but we also knew that we needed to keep some aspect of normalcy in our clients’ day-to-day routines and to maintain the critical connections and support services our families had grown to depend on and to trust. It’s what we do and who we are!
My team started a trend. Like I said, we had to get creative quickly. The second we felt the wave coming we charted our course of action. Only a few of us had participated in “virtual meetings,” but we figured it out and immediately went virtual. We took our classes online to ensure the continuation of our programs, such as music and art therapy, social club, “girl talk” and “the zone”, “Intellectual Discussions” and even virtual cooking.
While doing so, we were able to include former clients who had moved out of state, and those with severe anxiety, to participate from the comfort of their own homes while maintaining their relationships and connections with their trusted LLEC staff, volunteers, classmates, and peers. Like all of us, we’ve had to overcome challenges, but overall, the success has been amazing!
We all have the same goal of success and happiness. We do so in the growth and development of our clients. Stay tuned, as I tell you about our journey through this pandemic, the story of how we’ve grown, our commitment to our clients, and the mission we are determined to forever evolve.
Through this, you will hear from some of our biggest inspirations. I will be meeting with Dr. Temple Grandin and Justice Richard Bernstein soon and cannot wait to share our stories, successes, and learnings!! We are also honored to have Mayor Turnbull of Northville speak with us. You don’t want to miss this; the excitement is real and we are looking forward to sharing that with you!
Keep in touch; this is only the beginning.