We asked Vico, now an ELSA Apprentice, what he would like to say to you. He gave us two words. "You care." Two words that say it all. Vico is in his twenties and has autism. He does not talk much. But he sure is expressive when it comes to animals. He told his family in a beautifully handwritten note last summer after finishing his first-ever job as an ELSA Apprentice, "I want to work. I want to work with animals so I won't be heartbroken."
His wish came true. Because Vico gained horse skills, ranch skills and the necessary social skills to become ELSA's first ranch Apprentice. Vico sets his alarm, arrives at the ranch on time, cares for and handles six horses, leads our students on horseback, shows them the ropes, completes assigned duties... and brings home a paycheck. Something his parents were not sure they would ever see.
"You care" ~ two powerful words that create community and spread compassion. Two simple words ~ "you care" ~ that with each small step make a huge difference in Vico's life and the lives of the 1,500 other youth and young adults with special needs and challenges in the extended ELSA family since programs began in 2010. When you partner with ELSA, you literally transform the lives of the most vulnerable amongst us. VIco is just one exceptional individual out of more than a million in the U.S. with autism and other disabilities who will age out of the school system at 22. Ready or not, most never reach independence as they get older and remain at home with a family member, depressed, and with limited access to the services they will continue to need.
Your $100 donation to ELSA's Apprenticeship Fund and our Ranch Skills Program provides stipends and a promise of a future. Whatever the size of your support, whether $25 or $2,500, "you care" and you are the reason we can carry on.... with you... this labor of love, compassion and community.