Jane and Culley Sr. Christensen were first introduced to SARRC in 2001 by a friend when she shared she had some concerns about one of her children’s development. Soon after, she was connected with SARRC co-founder Denise Resnik on how best to support her son, Culley Jr.
“She showed me a video of SARRC’s team working with children with autism to develop and expand their skills,” shares Jane Christensen. “It was an epiphany. What I saw in the video matched much of what we were trying to figure out with our son.”
Soon after, the family enrolled in SARRC services. At that time, SARRC was just defining programs and giving direction on how to connect with certain services provided by the state. The Christensen family enrolled with the Division of Developmental Disabilities to receive recommendations for speech therapy and other services. SARRC also connected them with other parents seeking to find solutions.
Confirming their instincts, Jane’s son eventually received a diagnosis at 2.5 years old at the Melmed Center.
“I always felt we were racing against time, the longer Culley Jr. remained in his shell, the chances of his recovery or his chance at a normal life would dwindle. Every moment, every therapy, every interaction counted,” says Jane.
Jane shares, “I knew we just had to work to build a bright future for our son. Concurrently, Denise and SARRC were on a courageous journey to build a resource center where parents and families could come and seek support.”
With the help of SARRC’s team, Jane and her husband found various services all over the Valley to support Culley Jr. These included speech and occupational therapy, along with music therapy, floor time, ABA and specialized diets that looked at intestinal and behavioral issues.
“Today, Culley Jr. is a beneficiary of all the hard work and dedication of many persistent individuals that refuse to give up on finding solutions for autism. Today he is happy, healthy and such a part of our world and others,” says Jane.
The Christensens understand firsthand the impact that SARRC was making in the community.
“We have always wanted to help in any way we could,” says Jane.
For more than 20 years, the Christensen family has made it their mission to give back to SARRC in a multitude of ways.
Notably, (for the past 7 years) Jane’s company, Omni Bioceutical Innovations, which specializes in science-based skin and hair care products, has been a SARRC Employment Partner, and they are committed to increasing competitive, community-based employment opportunities for adults with autism.
“SARRC has made inclusion a reality in the greater Phoenix area. Omni is no exception with its inclusive workforce, employing a number of individuals with autism over the years,” says Jane. “One success involves a young woman with autism who has worked for the company for the past six years. We are inspired to give back as we have watched her thrive and grow as a person and gain new skills. She is truly a ‘main ingredient’ in our work family.”
The Christensen family has also volunteered and supported SARRC’s events and Jane previously served on the Board of Directors from 2009-2015.
Most recently, they’ve signed on as Multiyear Visionary Partners, or MVPs, pledging annual donations for at least five years.
“We are committed to making sure that the multifaceted initiatives SARRC provides reach across the lifetime of individuals with autism. It is about enabling someone to have a better quality of life and be part of an inclusive community,” says Jane.
Are you interested in making a difference by becoming a SARRC Multiyear Visionary Partner? Learn more here.