Parents in Toto offers families an oasis
When Mary Limbacher's son was diagnosed in fifth grade with Asperger's syndrome, a particular form of autism, she realized how important a support base would be in raising her child.
As her son was entering sixth grade in 2000, Limbacher began Cranberry CARES, a support group specifically designed for parents with children who have Asperger's syndrome.
Limbacher realized that she was not alone and made it her goal to help parents and individuals who deal with forms of autism in any way she could.
In the beginning of 2008, Limbacher opened the doors of her non-profit, Parents in Toto, located at 143 South Main Street in Zelienople, to help others.
By starting the organization, she also opened doors of opportunity for parents, diagnosed individuals, families and friends to socialize and learn in a comfortable space in order to provide an encouraging experience.
“I'm very focused on visits to the center being positive,” Limbacher said. “It's non-threatening, everyone is willing to share what has worked with their family.”
The name “in toto,” Latin for “in total” or “completely,” was chosen as a way to emphasize her understanding of success relying on much more than just one person.
The officially nonprofit company now serves to over 100 families that visit the center regularly, providing them with support and products related to autism spectrum disorders free of charge.
Participants and parents use the center as a way to find a support base after a hard day or meet new people who deal with similar struggles, Limbacher said. “It's very much like being part of a family.”
Bill Benzinger, a Renfrew resident and parent of a child diagnosed with autism, sees the center as a place for his son, Jacob, to grow and use the successes of others as inspiration.
“I really like Jacob being exposed to other people with his condition who are really reaching above and beyond what otherwise might not have been possible for them,” Benzinger said, listing examples of participants who hold steady jobs or attend college.
The organization also acts as a place for Benzinger to know that his son is not alone and that he, as a parent, has a support group that is there for him.
“It was just so neat to see a room full of Jacobs,” he said, remembering the first time they visited the center.
The success of Parents in Toto has given Limbacher a new goal: to start another center where aid is given to families and individuals who have all kinds of needs, not just those associated with autism.
Creating an environment that fosters the expansion of new ideas is the key to success and expansion for the organization,
“I don't think it necessarily takes more money, we just have to be more creative and be optimistic,” she said.
Matthew DeFusco is an intern with Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Injury to RT Gilbert opens door for Adams to start
- Police identify driver in North Side crash that killed pregnant woman
- Company seeks to reopen coal mine in Nottingham, Washington County
- Mt. Pleasant girls basketball coach eager to start season with versatile team
- Pine-Richland hopes to avoid ‘drop off’ against State College
- Pitt receiver Boyd continues to grow on and off the field
- Holiday shoppers expected to spend conservatively
- Florida roommates find a career in playing video games on web channel Twitch
- Kittanning boys basketball shoots for 4th straight playoff trip in program’s final season
- Mexico targets local corruption
- Through the years: A look at final games of A-K Valley schools