What We Do
The ACRES Project (Adults Creating Residential & Employment Solutions) is a a 501(c)3 non-profit located in the heart of Central Pennsylvania.
Our unique team consists of people with autism, educators, parents, and community members working together to meet the social, vocational, and residential needs of adults with autism. ACRES will provide a nurturing environment, uniquely designed by adults with autism, for adults with autism, to help individuals build a foundation for a productive, independent life. By fostering social, vocational, and self-advocacy skills, ACRES helps individuals optimize their potential, develop practical life skills, increase social capacity, and transition to work and independence.
Everybody has a talent, and the ACRES Project is here to turn the passions and skills of adults with autism into meaningful living and working opportunities allowing individuals to live, thrive, and sustain themselves financially.
Why We're Here
1 in every 59 children will be diagnosed with autism. According to 2014 census data, the state of Pennsylvania alone is home to over 55,000 individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism is often viewed as a childhood disorder, but it is a lifelong diagnosis. Children with autism become teenagers, adults, and seniors with autism. Although our school districts and social programs provide many supports for children with an ASD, these services disappear at the age of 21, when individuals are no longer eligible for the vital supports which they and their families have relied on since childhood.
Between now and 2027, over 500,000 Americans with autism will cross into adulthood. These adults are likely one of the most overlooked and underserved populations in America. With no support and nowhere to turn, they have a greatly increased risk of isolation, loneliness, unemployment, and overall lack of purpose. Although 61% of adults with autism want to hold a job, 85% lack adequate employment opportunities. And while 78% wish to live independently, 90% rely on a parent or guardian or lack independent living options. The ACRES Project is working to create those options.
Who We Are
Established in July 2014, The ACRES Project, Inc. is a nonprofit (501c3) organization established in 2014 with a mission to provide a unique residential and day community that fosters independence, self-advocacy, and work/life skills for adults with autism.
The concept for the ACRES Project was born out of an urgent plea from a young mother of an autistic child who is battling terminal cancer, which will soon leave her only son without a support network as he moves into the next stage of his life – being a young adult with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The project was spearheaded by a former autistic support teacher Bella Bregar and her long time friend Cathy Prosek, whose 40 year old son with intellectual disabilities is successfully managing independent living with a job he loves and a social network of friends.
The ACRES Project's Board of Directors works closely with our Adult Advisory Group, a team of adults with a variety of autism spectrum disorders. Their feedback ensures that our innovative programs and supports are designed by adults with autism, for adults with autism. These programs will provide the structure and support necessary to help these vital members of our society remain strong contributors both socially and economically.
What We Do
To date, the ACRES Project has been working to increase awareness of the challenges adults with autism face by connecting with a variety of business and service organizations. We strive to provide the community with educational opportunities for family and support staff, and have hosted speakers such as Kerry Magro, a Temple Grandin award winner. We also host regular parent support group meetings and panel discussions on the various challenges of living with autism.
In early 2017, we acquired a lease on a rural, two acre property in Patton Township. The 3,000 sq. ft. home will accommodate a variety of programs, including transitional independent living arrangements, life skills classes, and social groups. A planned greenhouse addition will provide adults with vocational training in aquaponics, a sustainable method of agriculture which combines raising fish and plants in one operation.
Together with a growing circle of community members sharing a wide variety of professional skills, the ACRES Project is steadily moving toward its goal of creating a vibrant, uplifting community where all the pieces fit.