FREDDY HEREDIA — Special to Southern News
While Valentine’s Day is a holiday for most couples and love-hopefuls to spend a night out with their significant others, Southern senior and Community Advisor in Schwartz Hall Heather Kirk was one of the many CAs on campus looking to raise money for a charity called Roses for Autism.
“A friend of mine and I, ironically, were doing some research and I have worked with people with autism for a while and so has she, so the site popped up and we thought it would be a great idea,” said Kirk.
Founded in 2009, Roses for Autism is a nonprofit social enterprise founded by Ability Beyond Disability, a foundation dedicated to growing independence in the business world for individuals with autism and other disabilities. The Roses for Autism website tells the story of Jim Lyman, a father whose son has autism and became the inspiration behind the charity. The charity hopes the story will help others with autism have meaningful jobs and the opportunity to grow as individuals.
For more than a decade Kirk has worked closely with autistic children, as it has been her great desire to help in that field. Having a brother with autism, Kirk knows firsthand the benefits and difficulties and wants to pursue a career where she will be able to work with more students closely.
“It’s what I’m going to school for,” she said.
Originally sold at $10 per rose, Southern students were able to buy a rose for $5 and have them personally delivered by the CAs in the dorm halls on Valentine’s Day. While donations were also accepted, the charity was “really great to work with” said Kirk, who said she believed the idea was a “great success.”
Along with the roses being handed out to students, ResLife Staff had many other requirements to accomplish.
“We had to have education program and because it was throughout every resident hall, other CAs held an educational program where the residents were informed of the organization as well as what autism is,” said Kirk.
Southern juniors Kimmie Ruospo and Annie Sullivan donated money for a rose with hopes of helping out in anyway that they can.
“I bought a rose for autism because it was for Valentine’s Day, but I know a lot of people with disabilities. So anything that I can do for people with disabilities—I wanted to help out,” Ruospo said. “I don’t know much about the organization but my sister’s fiancé has a disability. So anytime I see anyone with disabilities I want to help out. I think it is a way to get people to give money to a good cause and help fight autism.”
While donations from students and faculty are welcomed, Sullivan believes teaching others about autism is a big step to help those who do not know much about it.
“I work with kids, so I see a lot of kids with disabilities. So I felt any way I could help out I would do it,” she said. “I think it is good to get the word out about autism because it’s not something you hear about every day and its good to be informed about it.”