About

Engaging Programs for Individuals on the Spectrum

What We Do

The mission of Families of Autistic Children in Tidewater (FACT) is to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families. FACT proudly provides recreational programs designed to enhance the socialization and communication skills of individuals with autism. FACT offers activities that are adaptable for any ability level or age. Our programs are led by knowledgeable, experienced staff and augmented by the participation of non-disabled peers. 

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 to families affected by autism.

Tracking Our Growth:

  • 1993–1997

    FACT was created by committed parents and community leaders as a nonprofit organization. FACT welcomed their camp director Pam Clendenen, and Camp Gonnawannagoagin’s summer program was launched and served 20 children for two weeks.

  • 2004–2008

    FACT began year-round services in addition to camp. The number of students attending camp increased to 100 students over a period of four weeks. A winter session of camp and family-centered monthly socials began and Teen Night was established for students seeking ongoing social interactions with peers.

  • 2010

    Tween Time was created to serve middle school-aged students. Summer camp served 240 students.

  • 2008–2012

    FACT hosts Gonnawannabowlagin’ with two ten-week bowling leagues in the fall and winter. 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.

  • 2013–2017

    FACT began collaborating with Friends School and hosting our programs, including summer camp, on their campus and offering athletic programs including basketball, soccer, and baseball to teach basic skills and teamwork.

  • 2018–2020

    FACT serves more than 400 individuals with autism each year—hosting three seasonal camps, four sports leagues, three different ongoing monthly social programs, a variety of leisure programs that include fine and performing arts as well as life skills, and five Family Fun Days each year.

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Meet The Staff

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Pam Clendenen Executive Director

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.

Administrative Team:

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Edna Vega Executive Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper

Edna started out as a helpful, engaged parent volunteer and has become a dynamic component of our team. She tracks income and expenses, maintains databases, manages the office, and assists with special projects and events.

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Sheri Bragg Program Director

Sheri began volunteering when she was nine years old. Sheri recently took on the role of Program Director in charge of designing, implementing, and creating programs. Sheri is an experienced special educator and the perfect combination of professionalism and compassion.

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Jessie Pitts

began as a camp counselor in 2008. He is currently an Assistant Camp Director, Social Club Supervisor, and Leisure Programs Coordinator. Not only is Jessie Pitts a remarkable parent liaison, but he also has a true gift for developing rapport with children with autism. He is invaluable to our programs.

MEET THE BOARD

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 and business leaders in the Hampton Roads area.

Executive Board

  • President – Sharon Slipow – Virginia Beach Community Services Board
  • Treasurer – George Metzger – RP55 Group
  • Secretary – Saunders Bohan
  • Executive Director – Pam Clendenen

Board Members

  • Toby Adamson – BB&T Scott and Stringfellow
  • Tom Bohan – EURPAC Service Inc.
  • Duncan McDuff
  • Larry Slipow – Slipow, Robusto & Kellam, PC
  • Tyler Williamson
  • Steve VanHorn