Nonprofit serving children with autism finds new home

Henrico non-profit finds a new home

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - A Henrico non-profit found a new home after Ukrop’s announced plans to open a new food hall in its current space.

The Richmond Autism Integration Network (R.A.I.N) will be moving to a building off Maywill Street near Willow Lawn.

“The other place is a little cramped,” Henry Gustofson, a member of R.A.I.N., said.

For years, R.A.I.N. has operated out of the Bon Air Baptist Church Village Campus, but in June it faced a challenge of having to relocate.

“The Ukrop’s have been supportive keeping us here through the end of August because right now is when our biggest program occurs," R.A.I.N. Program Director Catherine Pall said.

“There’s always anxiety with change, but it’s a little bit more prevalent with our population,” R.A.I.N. Director of Finance Louise Riendeau said. “So, we took our time and answered all their questions.”

R.A.I.N. has now partnered with U-Turn Sports Performance Academy in finding a new location for the program.

U-Turn is a faith-based nonprofit on a mission to “create and environment that encourages fellowship, inspires leadership, and spreads hope.”

“We want to elevate our community and really pour into our youth,” U-Turn Activities & Events Director Khiry Cooper said. “So, we want to partner with those in the community who are doing that.”

Friday the R.A.I.N. summer group was able to check out the new digs for the first time.

“I like it,” Brendan Seiferheld, a member of R.A.I.N., said. “It’s significantly larger.”

“It’s fantastic,” Pall said. “We are so excited. Our kids are really excited. A lot of them are still getting used to the transition and are saying wow this is the biggest building we’ve ever seen.”

For Kaeden Janson, the chance to get involved in sports at the new facility means a lot to him.

“I [run] track a lot,” Janson said.

The new facility has a track for Janson to run on, along with three turf fields and four basketball courts. But besides the draw of the sports facilities, the group will have rooms to focus on other important skills.

“It’s really important for kids with autism and disabilities to be included in the community and have the ability to feel like they’re a part of something,” Pall said.

“We loved what they do for the youth, and we love what they do for the kids in this community,” Cooper said.

“We treat each other like family,” Janson said. “Brothers and sisters and everything.”

Now that family has found a new home.

“Here we’re uncaged where we can spread our wings,” Seiferheld said.

Beginning Sept. 1, R.A.I.N.’s programs will be held at the new facility.

While U-Turn does not have any available space for other nonprofits, the group is always looking for help from the community.

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