What We Do
FACT proudly provides recreational programs to enhance the socialization and communication skills of individuals with autism. We do not provide respite care, therapies, or daily care. If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism and you are unsure of the options and/or resources available, we strongly suggest Tidewater Autism Society. This organization assists with providing resources to professionals, government aid programs, service providers, therapies, and more.
The mission of Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater (FACT) is to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families in the greater Hampton Roads, Virginia area. FACT promotes the creation of social and recreational programs designed to enhance communication and socialization. FACT encourages frequently integrating these individuals into the community by providing positive social and communication models, along with emotional and behavioral supports needed for engagement.
Our Vision and Future Goals
FACT will continue to expand specialized programs for individuals with autism that facilitate social interactions with peers, broaden emerging leisure skills, and model appropriate community engagement. At FACT, we commit our resources to increasing the availability of services for families affected by autism.
Tracking our growth:
- 1993- FACT was created by committed parents and community leaders as a non-profit organization.
- 1996-The first week of summer camp was launched, which began with a mere five children and lasted only five days.
- 1997- We welcomed our camp director, Pam Clendenen. Together we embarked upon our second year of summer camp, along with 20 children for a total duration of two weeks.
- 2004- FACT continued to expand, both with year-round services and with our annual summer camp. The number of students attending camp increased to 80 students over a period of four weeks.
- 2006- FACT implemented winter camp and family-centered monthly socials.
- 2008- Teen Night was established for students seeking ongoing social interactions with peers. Summer camp expands, this time we serviced 125 students.
- 2010-Tween Time was created to serve middle school aged students. Summer camp served 240 students.
- 2012- FACT hosted two new events: Gonnawannabowlagin’, a 10-week bowling league for students with autism and our 1st Annual Scavenger Hunt for Autism was held to benefit FACT and EVMS autism research.
- 2013- with a generous grant from the Virginia Beach Youth Services Club, FACT hosted an I Can Shine bike camp, a one-week clinic that teaches children with disabilities how to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
- 2014- FACT began collaborating with Friends School and hosting our programs, including summer camp on their campus.
- 2015- FACT started offering athletic programs including basketball, soccer, and baseball to teach basic skills and teamwork.
- 2016- FACT served more than 400 individuals with autism- hosting three seasonal camps, five sports leagues, three different ongoing monthly social programs, and five family events.
- 2017- Performing arts programs were launched including “FACT’s next top model” fashion show and a Karaoke concert.
- 2018- FACT hosted its first ever art show, showcasing art from individuals with autism.
The FACT Board of Directors is made up of a dedicated group of individuals with a broad array of backgrounds and experiences ranging from parents of children with autism, educators, and business leaders in the Hampton Roads area.
President – Sharon Slipow- Virginia Beach Community Services Board
Vice President – Pat Alspaugh- Parties for Particular People
Treasurer – George Metzger – RP55 Group
Executive Director – Pam Clendenen
Larry Slipow,-Slipow, Robusto, & Kellam, PC
John Alspaugh- Associates in Plastic Surgery
Toby Adamson- BB&T Scott and Stringfellow
Neil Marino- NJ Marino Group
Executive Director- Pam Clendenen
Pam has been the Camp Gonnawannagoagin Director since 1997 and became FACT’s Executive Director in 2006. Pam develops and oversees all the organization’s programs, fundraising, and special events. Her dedication to our mission and admiration for the children and families we serve is boundless.
Office (757) 422-2040
Cell (757) 788-1993 (between 9:00-5:00)
Marketing and Communication Specialist- Lauren Cook
For more than 10 years, Lauren has been supporting FACT programs and the children we serve. For 9 years as a camp counselor and through many Lawn Party fundraisers, Lauren has graced us with her skills and passion. Last year Lauren joined our administrative team authoring our monthly newsletters, blogs, and press releases. She also keeps our social media up to date and assists with the planning and marketing of fundraisers.
Office (757) 422-2040
Cell (404) 583-0193
Programs Leadership Team:
Jessie Pitts began as a camp counselor in 2008. He is currently an Assistant Camp Director, Social Club Supervisor, and Sports Programs Coordinator. Not only is Jessie Pitts a remarkable parent liaison, he has a true gift for developing rapport with children with autism. He is invaluable to our programs.
Sheri Hess began volunteering when she was nine years old. Sheri is an Assistant Camp Director, our Teen Time Supervisor and co-manages our bowling leagues. Sheri is the perfect combination of professionalism and compassion.
Katrina Garrett began working for our camp in 2011. Katrina oversees our Out and About program for adults with significant communication impairments and frequently assists with Family Fun Day events, Teen Time, and Social Club.
Rachel White became a camp counselor in 2012. She demonstrated a unique talent for managing challenging behaviors and was promoted to assistant camp director in 2014. Rachel also assists with Social Programs, Family Fun Days, coaches our kickball league, and assists with special projects including the Lawn Party silent auction.
Cindy Wheeler joined FACT around 2003. Cindy co-manages our bowling leagues since they began in 2012.