Every February, Niche Homes likes to celebrate a person or organization in our community that fills our hearts with happiness and inspires us with their remarkable work. One such organization that has our highest admiration is our Yalecrest neighbor, the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center for Learning. They provide nationally-recognized preschool, elementary, and adolescent programs and support services for children with autism spectrum disorders and their family members. The school, and those who work there, truly have hearts of gold.
Meet Dr. Julia Hood
Ph.D., BCBA-D, NCSP, Chief Clinical Officer and IDD for Valley Behavioral Health
Our meeting with Dr. Julia Hood just happened to fall on last Monday’s very snowy day. Schools in the area were closed and most Salt Lakers refused to venture out of their homes. By the time we met at noon, Dr. Hood had already had a busy morning around town. She had driven to her office in Holladay, visited the mother of a student in Cottonwood Heights and driven back to the Pingree Center. Her day would continue with a major donor meeting. And preparations to present a bill to the Social Services Subcommittee on Capitol Hill to increase funding for adults with autism.
Award Winning Services—An Expression of Love
The Pingree Center has garnered national recognition and numerous local awards for their excellent work. Awards such as Real Salt Lake’s Heroes Among Us Award and the Agency of the Year Award from the Autism Council of Utah. However, the inspiration for Dr. Hood’s unstoppable dedication does not come from these accolades, it comes from her commitment to the families she serves.
There are countless stories of the positive ways the Pingree Center has impacted the lives of its students and families. Dr. Hood shared the story of a student who exhibited aggressive behavior and could not communicate verbally when he began preschool. After years of individualized support from his teachers and staff, he had a remarkable breakthrough. It was a life-changing moment for his family when, at the age of nine, he was able to look his mother in the eye and say, “Mom, I love you.”
Our Yalecrest Neighbors
Operations began at the current location on the corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Guardsman Way in 2002. The property for the center was purchased and generously donated by an anonymous local philanthropist. Close proximity to the University of Utah allows the school to partner with the University on research. They also hire from the student body and provide ongoing training for mental health professionals. The center also values its relationship with the nearby Yalecrest community. They welcomed the neighborhood’s input for the design of their building as well as the landscaping of their facility. The Pingree Center also hosts the Yalecrest Community Council’s monthly meetings.
Show Your Love at the Annual Chili Open
The Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center for Learning has various initiatives throughout the year to raise funds. Donations support scholarships to families who cannot afford services. The annual Chili Open, sponsored by the Sugar House Rotary Club, will be on February 8th. April is Autism Awareness Month and local salons offer blue hair extensions to raise money for the Do Your Blue campaign.
To learn more about this impressive organization or to make a donation to the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center for Learning visit: https://carmenbpingree.com/donate/