We Love We Promise

We Promise has been supporting F.A.C.T. for 12 years with incredibly generous $10,000 grants.  They have funded the purchase of busses and vans that have allowed us to expand our programs and serve an increasing number of families.  The grants they’ve awarded have underwritten materials, activities, and scholarships that make our camp and exceptional program that is accessible to everyone regardless of income.


As the charitable arm of Chartway Federal Credit Union, the We Promise Foundation is dedicated to making dreams come true for children struggling with degenerative, life-threatening, debilitating or chronic illnesses, or those facing tremendous hardship. The foundation was launched in 2005 based on the enduring success of Chartway’s charitable events. Since 1999, Chartway and We Promise Foundation have raised over $7 million to lighten the burden of over 3,000 children through our partnerships with numerous chapters of The Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater, Toby’s Dream Foundation, and many more that share their passion and mission to make a difference.


We encourage you to visit the We Promise and Chartway websites, and support the events they host which directly impact children in our community.


Fast Cars and Big Hearts- VCRA donates $6,500

Many years ago, two sisters (Shelby and Samantha Keating) volunteered at Camp Gonnawannagoagin’.  They were outstanding volunteers who loved the work and truly connected to the campers. They told their neighbor, Joe Correa, about their wonderful experiences and F.A.C.T.’s good works.  Joe reached out to his old friend Rex Gardner who loves vintage cars, going fast, and his son who has autism.  Rex is now F.A.C.T.’s good friend as well, even though we have never met.

Rex founded the Vintage Car Rally Association, a non-profit organization based in his home state of Oklahoma.  Their mission has two important components.  They provide classic car enthusiasts the opportunity to compete safely and thereby keeping the sport and love of great automobiles flourishing.  Their second goal is to support families with autism by donating the proceeds from their events to autism schools and charities.

Since 2012, the VCRA has sponsored bike camp, the purchase of a 15 passenger van, entire seasons of sports programs and family socials, and the purchase of much needed office and camp equipment.  We could not be more grateful for their hard work and loyal support.  Please visit the VCRA website to see more about their work and exciting events.


Best Valentine’s Day Ever

Best Valentine’s Day Ever!

Our second annual Valentine’s family social and teen dance was very special.  We shot Cupid’s arrows, did the “Cupid Shuffle”, donned heart shaped temporary tattoos, got silly in the photo booth, celebrated winter birthdays, and generally “felt the love”.  F.A.C.T. would like to acknowledge our hard working social committee: Laura Fahey, Sheri Hess, and Linda Senich who have been working hard to make sure every family member has a great time at each of our events for two seasons.  We also want to thank our assistant camp directors and teen night coordinators “Miss Alison” Tom and “Mr. Jessie” Pitts who acted as dance instructor and D.J. for this event. Very special thanks go out to volunteer alumni Tyler Brooks, who provided the super fun Virginia Beach Photo Booth.  We also want to recognize our new friends at the Cape Henry Rotary who have committed to providing sheet cakes for all our socials and camp parties throughout the year…sweet!  Finally, our deep gratitude to Friends School for partnering with F.A.C.T. to provide a safe and welcoming place for our programs.

Click here to see all the fun

A Message of Thanks and Praise for TCC from our Director

Our Director Pam Clendenen with fellow graduate Bernita Townes.

Our Director Pam Clendenen with fellow graduate Bernita Townes.

At my core I have always considered myself an educator. Whether working as a speech pathologist or a camp director, working with individuals with special needs and their families has always been my passion.

I was excited and terrified when, after serving as Camp Director for 9 years, FACT offered me a full-time position as their Executive Director. I felt I had the enthusiasm, creativity, and people skills required, but I had reservations about my ability to oversee fundraising, budgeting, and grant writing. As the E.D., could I rise to meet the responsibility of managing a public trust? Obviously, I let my passion conquer my doubt and took the position in 2006 (mostly because I didn’t know what I didn’t know). Fortunately, I discovered the Academy for Non-Profit Excellence at TCC. This incredible, high-quality program (offered by the Tidewater Community College Workforce Development Program) was made possible by a grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation- a remarkable organization that works specifically for local charities.

During my first four years as the E.D., I had no year-round staff at all. What I did have was determination and a goal. The classes and networking offered by the Academy were truly a lifeline for me. From board development and employment law- to branding, marketing, and data analysis- the Academy was there teaching me the skills I needed in order to be successful with my career endeavor. They reassured me that as long as I had the dedication and a willingness to learn, our organization and the families we serve would be in good hands.

The Academy offers a Certification in Non-Profit Management once course completion is satisfied, but obtaining this was never my primary goal. At the time, my only goal was to survive and to be an asset to FACT. Oftentimes, I took more classes than were required, simply because they were that effective for me. In fact, these courses were so effective, that I chose to repeat a few of them as the needs of FACT evolved. With my mind being so focused on my goals for FACT, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when Lisa Peterson presented me with my framed Certification of Non-Profit Management. She even added a little “Pomp and Circumstance”- nice touch.

I will continue to take classes at the Academy, despite having earned my certificate. In fact, I am registered for two more classes this semester. I urge my staff (yes, I have two staff now!) and board members to attend as well. I encourage anyone who is interested or involved in the non-profit world to at least check out the amazing array of courses offered; there truly is something for everyone. Regardless of your organization’s size or budget, national organizations and grass roots start-ups will benefit immeasurably. You will feel empowered to go out and do the important work of helping others.

Driving home from class today, I was reflecting on FACT’s growth, my own professional growth, and how the academy is directly responsible for so much of both. I want to thank all of my supportive classmates over the years, and especially Lisa Peterson and Mark Block from TCC, their predecessors Lillian Bailey and Vicki Parker, and the generous forward thinking folks at Hampton Roads Community Foundation (HRCF)-including Deborah DiCroce, Sally Hartman, Debbi Steiger, and Kay Stine. They lift us up so we can lift others.

To find out more about the HRCF, please visit: http://www.hamptonroadscf.org/

Winter Camp

The spring-like weather doubled the fun this time around. Everyone was able to transition easily and comfortably during our daily field trips to bowling, skating, the aquarium, and more! The afternoons were calmly spent on the playground and basketball court. It was a fantastic four days leading up to what will surely be a wonderful New Year! Many thanks go out to all of our volunteers, camp benefactors, and especially to Friends School, for sharing their beautiful campus. 

Please click here to see all the fun.

Scavenger Hunt: it takes a village

FACT decided to make a bold move this year by moving the Scavenger Hunt to Ghent, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the decision. For starters, the people of Norfolk are simply outstanding. As you might imagine, when trudging along a new territory to spread the news about a charity fundraiser, we are not always greeted with open arms and ears. This was never the case in Ghent. From store clerks to restaurant managers, each and every individual we encountered was kind and welcoming- many even feeling compelled to help.

The compassion wasn’t bounded to only Ghent, either. The City of Norfolk has the most obliging, competent employees that we have had the pleasure of working with in quite a while. City employees have a lot on their plates, and it is not uncommon for a week to go by before receiving an answer to a matter as simple as trashcan placement. Again, this was not the case this time around. At one point, we had Ashley Johnson from the city calling us to ensure her reply via email was clear enough, and checking to see if we had any questions. Meanwhile, Timothy Forbes (Blair Middle School Assistant Principal) was shooting pictures of the school grounds with his phone, just to help us decide where to set up our DJ equipment. Bravo, Norfolk!

“Why the move,” you may ask? Your answer: if there is ever anything FACT can do to support EVMS, we want to do it. They make their home in the heart of Norfolk, so why not bring the fun to their neighborhood? Most importantly, EVMS is the primary reason the Scavenger Hunt exists. Their groundbreaking autism research will improve the lives of many people with autism.

In closing, we have to thank those who always have our backs. Without our loyal and enthusiastic Scavenger Hunt participants; our compassionate staff and volunteers; and our dependable and supportive sponsors, Kellam Mechanical; we would never be able to get this thing off of the ground.

Click here to see pictures from the event.


bowlingCongratulations to all our bowlers for a great season and many thanks to our staff, parents and volunteers for all they did to make everyone’s season a success. Last but not least, we are especially grateful for our supportive friends at Pinboy’s Bowling, their patience and generosity is unmatched.

Tween Time and Laser Quest

laser questLaser Quest has always been a favorite destination of ours and last Friday we were reminded why.  The Tween Time gang played two exciting games, played in the arcade, and had a chance to meet new friends. From the crazy code names to the awesome laser action, a great time was had by all.

Gonnawannaswishagin update

bballOnce again, our friends with autism have risen to the challenge.  Each week our coaches and volunteers help our young athletes gain skills and confidence.  Best of all, everyone is getting a great day’s exercise.  Keep up the great work everyone. We’re proud of you!

2015 Mid-Atlantic Home and Garden Show

2015 Mid-Atlantic Home & Garden Show
Last weekend the Tidewater Builders Association hosted this fantastic event, featuring an exciting line-up of celebrities and home and garden experts, offering something for everyone in the family.  Thanks to the support of Kellam Mechanical, F.A.C.T. had a booth at the show to spread the word about our programs and fund raising events.  Kellam also made a generous donation that will benefit our summer camp program.  We met so many nice people; donors, service providers, and families with autism. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers that helped man the booth all weekend. We can’t wait for next year!