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Meet Monica Fyfe of Our Village in Redondo Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Fyfe.

Monica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have always had a goal in life to give back and help others. Part of it came through my own spirituality as a Catholic. Part of it came from a drive in myself to promote social justice, empathy, and inclusion for all with various life differences. After working as a clinician in the field of ABA and Psychology for over 20 years, my “tribe” I have always wanted to support the most has always remained the same, the autism community. My colleagues and I have been involved with individuals with autism (and their families) through various ways: including direct therapy, school support, and also in our own circles or “villages” of family and friends.

We all saw a great need for a safe place where kids, teens and young adults could come together in a fun and safe environment, practice their skills amongst a cohort of similar peers, receive family support, and most of all feel accepted and validated for who they are as a whole person. There are lots of great individuals supports out there, but it is extremely difficult to find play and social skills group supports with their peers. Especially groups that are skill-based, evidence-based, and that are local and affordable for families to access.

We believe we have created this special, safe place at Our Village. Our Village is designed to be a “Social Learning Community,” that helps insulate kids, teens and young adults against bullying, social isolation, and social rejection. At the same time, our programs help improve their self-confidence in their social and friendship skills with others.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our biggest challenge thus far has been fundraising! We are all clinicians at heart, and this has been a creative and heartfelt, grassroots journey into developing something very important, and with high clinical quality.

Our Board and I are learning every day about fundraising and grant writing, but we could definitely use help in this area!

Our biggest blessing thus far has been our vendorization for our Teen and Young Adult social skills groups with Harbor Regional Center (and courtesy vendor with Westside Regional Center). Their generous support helps our families who qualify access to our programs, close to home, for FREE!

Please tell us about Our Village.
​Our Village is a 501 (c)(3), non-profit, federally registered charity based in Redondo Beach, CA. Our mission is to help children, teenagers, and young adults with autism and other social challenges through evidence-based social skills groups, that offer exceptional quality for families.

To meet our mission mandate, we provide programs that follow research-based behavioral therapy and play therapy methodologies. Our models currently utilized include: The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) for Teenagers and Young Adults, Sibshops for Siblings of a brother or sister with a special need, and components of Integrated Play Groups (IPG)© and Peer Mediated Social Skills Group for Children.

PEERS® is currently the ONLY available evidence-based social skills program for adolescents with ASD and is used clinically for youth with ADHD, anxiety, depression and other social challenges.

Our settings range from our fun & fabulous group space in North Redondo Beach to various schools, parks, churches and clinical settings in the South Bay and Long Beach. We are always happy to consult and share our programs with community organizations.

We were founded in 2015 and we are excited to be “one of the newer non-profits on the block!” We provide direct service that directly impacts your neighbors and community members!

We are proud to share that Our Village is a vendor of Harbor Regional Center and Westside Regional Center for our teen and young adult programs!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
It is so exciting to have a moment to thank and give a shout out to our fabulous Board at Our Village!

We would not exist without their volunteerism, passion, expertise, and dedication to our mission!

Dr. Albert Knapp (our Treasurer) and Jessica Adimari (our Secretary) were our Founding Board Members. I can still remember the 3 of us at our first meetings, coming up with a name, outlining our programs and mission, and figuring out what fun, family event we could throw to introduce ourselves to the community! With our newest board member joining us shortly after, Julie Brown (our VP of Events), we all put our Event Planner hats on and threw our 1st “Fall Fiesta” at the Redondo Beach Teen Center! It was so much fun and a great launch of the fun to come! We pulled it off and since then we have worked hard to put together annual, family-friendly community events, where our Social Skills Group Graduates, families, colleagues and New Friends could come together and practice their skills in fun, safe and motivating ways!

We did a “Mock” New Year’s Eve celebration called “JUMP into the New Year!” at Pump it Up, Torrance, and we have repeated our annual “Wine Down for Autism” wine tasting event during the month of April, in support of Autism Awareness Month, thanks to the support of Mercury Wine Club and Kendra Scott Jewelry.

Stefanie Rushakatankovit, (our Board President), joined our board to make it complete! Together as a team, we recently launched our own version of a “South Bay Comic-Con,” called our annual “BOWL-A-CON!” This event was held at PV Bowl, and was complete with Cosplayers, Celebrity Vehicles and more!

In addition, we could not have done all our community- and program-building thus far without our Superb Community Advisory Board Members including: Michael, Marjorie, Nick, Jason, Jodi, Behnaz, Toni, and Nickie! This board consists of parents, adults with ASD, and professionals from the community, that are great supporters and cheerleaders for us, and help us meet the specific needs of our community, in big ways and small!

Lastly, a very special thank you goes to our “honorary” member, my husband Brad Fyfe. Brad has been there with us every step of the way, supporting our cause, encouraging me, building our furniture & assembling our toys, volunteering at our events, sharing his artistic and creative ideas, and cheering us on! Our Village could not have existed without him. And last but not least, a big shout out to my own kiddos, Bella and Harrison, for “working with mom” and eagerly learning everyday about the importance of giving back, mentoring, volunteering, empathy and inclusion for all! xoxo

Albert
Jessica
Julie
Stefanie

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Izida Lukmanova, Cynthia Olkie, Vincent Lucido

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