News Article Details

St. Joe provides funding for autism foundation

News Herald - 9/26/2017

Sept. 26--PANAMA CITY BEACH -- Karen Arias of Panama City sought aid from the George Butchikas Foundation for Autism about 16 years ago, after her son Vincent began receiving therapy services.

"I don't know what I would've done," she said Monday at a check-passing ceremony. "When a parent gets an autism diagnosis, it's overwhelming. They're very supportive of the parents. They care as much about the children as we do."

The foundation, which provides funding for families that are unable to afford behavioral services, now has 20,000 more reasons to help those like Arias' family, after the St. Joe Co. granted $20,000 to the organization Monday.

"I'm excited that someone as big as St. Joe would partner with us," said Carolyn Butchikas, foundation director. "We've been raising money for Bay County for 20 years."

The funds will go toward 1,300 therapy hours in applied behavioral analysis, said Janet Greeno, executive director of the St. Joe Community Foundation. Butchikas said it also will be put toward speech therapy, occupational therapy and financial assistance for families in Bay County, along with helping to provide assistance to families through Florida State's Early Childhood Autism Program, which partnered with the foundation.

The St. Joe Community Foundation typically funds one program or organization per year, Greeno said. The organization has provided more than $18 million dollars to organizations since its inception in 1999.

"It feels wonderful to know we're helping children in the community live a better life," Greeno said.

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(c)2017 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)

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