Zach knows first-hand that services for people like him on the autism spectrum are crucial in reaching their full potential. Now, he’s paying it forward.
“Having had many medical issues, especially when I was very young, I’m fascinated by the science behind everything and I’m inspired by the autism research going on at Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center,” he says.
And now that he’s settled in Arizona with a great job and his first home, Zach wants to help others. He is the newest member of SARRC’s Legacy Circle, recognizing those who make long-term commitments through their wills, trusts or annuities.
His mom and stepdad are likewise passionate about helping those with autism and began volunteering for SARRC after they moved to Phoenix in 2015 and are also Legacy Circle members. Zach was first introduced to SARRC by his parents as well as its sister nonprofit, First Place AZ, a supportive housing community for adults with autism, Down syndrome and other neurodiversities.
“From 2018 to 2020, I worked at First Place in various positions. My personal experience of living and working and being on the autism spectrum helped me engage with the young adults,” Zach says.
Zach says he was lucky growing up with good parents, a great community, and access to services to help him grow and learn.
“Now, as a young working adult, I am fortunate to have a good job and recently purchased my first home. I want to make sure someday when I am no longer here that the assets from my estate can help others on the autism spectrum get the services and support they need to meet their potential.”
His goal is to see SARRC’s research programs expand and grow, including early identification and other key services. “Today autism spectrum disorder is much more visible than when I was growing up and I’d like to see that visibility continue to expand to all who need services throughout our state,” Zach says. “Many with autism spectrum disorder have hidden talents and could have more opportunities to share those talents with expanded services available statewide.”
Born in Massachusetts, at age 5 the family moved to Kansas where Zach attended Kansas State University. As an adult, he’s spread his wings with jobs in North Dakota and Australia. Five years ago, he decided to settle down in Phoenix to be close to his mom and stepdad.
Now 32, he works for a software company focused on smart apartments. The firm develops systems and devices aimed at making homes safer and more efficient, helping communities and businesses save energy and water, and enabling keyless entries for guests.
Zach is active with Gabriel’s Angels, a local nonprofit that helps at-risk children through pet therapy, and KSU’s local alumni club, which does local community outreach, supports scholarships and promotes the university.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a Legacy Circle member and ensuring the continued vitality and growth of SARRC’s services from one generation to the next, please contact Beth Salazar at [email protected] or 602-340-8717, ext. 1039.