Las Vegas Sun

December 13, 2018

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Findlay Good Works:

Advocating for children with special needs and their families

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Steve Marcus

Nevada PEP staff and volunteers pose at the Nevada PEP offices on West Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Seated from left, Diane Lombardo, Juanita Corswell, Zelinna Palma, Karen Taycher, executive director, Catherine Gondezi, and Joanna Gonzalez. Back row, from left, Liliana Resendez, Shelley Palaita, Robin Kincaid, Michele Jennings, Kenneth Taycher, Drew Kidd, Elisa Kline, Vietta Lowe, Nicole Rush, Havander Davis, Chad Uhl, Stephanie Vrsnik and Chad Frost. Nevada PEP is a nonprofit organization that provides information, services and training to Nevada families of children with disabilities.

Karen Taycher, Nevada PEP

• Title: Executive Director

• Agency address: 7211 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89117

• Agency phone number: 702-388-8899

• Agency website: nvpep.org

• Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., along with evening and weekend training workshops

Nevada PEP is a statewide family-driven nonprofit dedicated to improving home, community and school success for children with special needs. It accomplishes this by supporting families with information, mentoring and education activities. Nevada PEP offers the following services, free of charge: information and referral, a statewide lending library, biannual newsletters, conflict resolution support, individual assistance, training workshops, volunteer opportunities, family support services, monthly e-newsletters, webinars and systems advocacy. 

Who are its clients today?

The families of children with disabilities, physical and mental health needs, and children who are at risk. We also provide information services for community professionals in the medical, educational and human service fields, and community leaders who make decisions about programs of support for children with disabilities and their families.

What is Findlay Good Works?

Good Works is a twice-monthly series in Las Vegas Weekly in which we highlight the efforts of nonprofit groups that are making a difference in our community. You can check out the good work of more organizations by visiting facebook.com/FindlayAutoGroup.

What are its current initiatives or goals?

Raising public awareness of the negative effect bullying has on children in our schools. This year, we are hosting our eighth annual Run Walk Roll Against Bullying event October 20 at Sammy Davis Jr. Festival Plaza and Lorenzi Park. Forty schools will walk 1.5 miles to take a stand against bullying. Our community partners, including Findlay Automotive, have helped us grow this event each year, and we are expecting more than 2,000 participants. 

What services does the community likely know about?

Nevada PEP provides the family voice and systems advocacy on local and statewide task forces and committees to ensure that decisions made about supports and services for children and families are designed from the beginning with the family perspective. The national motto in the disability community, “Nothing about us without us,” drives our systems advocacy work.

What can people do to get involved in the cause you serve?

By volunteering their time and talent. Volunteers provide office assistance by helping with general tasks—answering telephones, copying, faxing, assisting with bulk mail, filing office forms and assembling training packets. They also assist with community fairs, special events, outreach, public awareness, trainings and support groups. Nevada PEP encourages family and student involvement on task forces, focus groups and at committee meetings.

What can Southern Nevadans do to improve our community in general?

Find your individual passion and get involved with a cause that means something to you.When we all feel a sense of responsibility for our community, we will make the improvements that Southern Nevada needs in education, mental health care and disability services.

Whom do you admire?

I admire Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, known as the “Dean of Disability,” who used his personal experience of growing up with a deaf brother to guide his work developing and introducing the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Where do you see your organization in five years?

Nevada PEP will increase the number of families served. Our bullying prevention activities will grow, we will open new self-advocacy programs for youth and our system advocacy will lead to improvements in child and family services throughout the community. 

Anything else you want to tell us?

We are humbled by the trust our community partners have in the good work we do. Together we are making a difference in our community for children and their families.