Founder of Tomorrow’s Voices, Thea Furbert on creating a community for those on the spectrum
When Thea Furbert began Tomorrow’s Voices in 2006, she did so believing that at some point the government would take on the same responsibility that she had taken on. What she never could have imagined was that instead Tomorrow’s Voices would remain part of her life for the next fifteen years.
Tomorrow’s Voices began as Bermuda’s first Autism Early Intervention Center, focused on helping families to take care of children or other family members with autism or other developmental disabilities. The Center was founded by Furbert and Tricia Simons, both of whom are parents of autistic children, who aimed to make sure that other parents would not struggle in the same ways that they did to care for their children. Furbert says, “When my son was diagnosed there was no place for him to receive services, so me and Tricia decided to create the Center to provide parents with what we initially were doing on our own.”
“We were hiring therapists to come from overseas. We hired them independently to go to school with our children, to provide early intervention at home. And that was a large cost, we were paying at least $60,000 a year for all of the things necessary to support our children. We just felt like other parents shouldn’t have to go through this.”
The Center’s early focus was primarily on early intervention services for children, but over the years it has grown to provide social skills development, adult services, and workshops for learning how to support those with autism.
“I’ve seen clients coming in with no language and be able to communicate.”
“I’ve been able to see parents come in and be able to breathe realising that there is a place to support their child. The miracles that I see on a daily basis are astronomical. Most wouldn’t believe until they walk through the doors and see the growth in our clients.”
Currently, the Center is based out of rented space at the former T.N. Tatem Middle School, but the hope for the future is to own their own facility. In the meantime, they still hope to expand to include more outreach services. While Furbert had hoped that the schools and the government would come to absorb some of the responsibility, she has realised it isn’t happening. Instead, Tomorrow’s Voices and their large staff, continue to provide assistance for up to forty students a year.
6 Ways You Can Help Tomorrow’s Voices
- Become a Donor
- Tomorrow’s Voices is a Registered Charity (#816) and continues to operate from the generous grants and donations from the public and private sectors. Through the help of their donors, grants and community support, the charity is able to subsidize the cost of therapeutic one-on-one ABA services to the parents & guardians of their clients by an estimate of 80%. This gives those parents and guardians the ability to access high end, research based, medically necessary services at an affordable cost to ensure their children access the clinical services they need. The ability to subside cost for these services would not be possible without these donations. For more information about becoming a donor, call 441-297-4342.
- Become a Member
- Tomorrow’s Voices has developed an Annual Membership Programme for those looking to extend their support to those with autism and other development disabilities. The $25 annual membership includes benefits such as: a digital newsletter, $5 off Tomorrow’s Voices Training Institute Workshops, 10% off In-Centre Professional Development Training Opportunities and access to the Tomorrow’s Voices Parent and Community Resource Library. To apply for a membership, click here.
- Hold Your Own Fundraiser
- You can help Tomorrow’s Voices by coming up with your own creative ideas to raise funds within the local community. Businesses and organizations could hold a ‘Company Denim Day’ where each member of staff donates $5 to wear denim on a causal Friday or raise funds from a company raffle or auction. Alternatively, individuals could have friends and family members donate to Tomorrow’s Voices in lieu of receiving birthday gift.
- Give Resources
- If you are looking to donate resources directly to Tomorrow’s Voices, the charity is in need of the following items:
- -Outdoor play/swing set (small)
- -Outdoor playground equipment
- -Laptops or Work Tablets
- -Ipads or Touch Screen Computers (Teaching tools)
- -Copier Paper (Letter Size)
- -White Dry Eraser Boards (Letter Size or Legal Size) and Dry Erase Markers
- -Play Dough
- -Washable Paints (All Colors)
- -Out Door Basket Ball Set with Basket Balls
- -5″ Three Ring Binders
- -Children’s Educational CDs and DVDs
- Volunteers are a crucial component to any non-profit organization, and Tomorrow’s Voices has a range of options for those who are interested in giving their time to assist in various duties. For the full list of volunteering time slots and to sign up, click here.
- The invaluable and important work that Tomorrow’s Voices is able to carry out would not be possible without the generous support of its donors, members and the wider community. To support their continued mission in providing accessible and affordable care to Bermuda’s youth with autism and development disabilities, you can donate online by clicking here.