People who have loved ones on the autism spectrum have a bigger family now, thanks to a new centre which opened in Chilliwack this week.
The Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) opened its fourth location on Tuesday to offer support for people in the Fraser Valley. The new centre, located in downtown Chilliwack, will offer services that include education, training and support for people with autism and their families.
“I’m so thrilled that the network is now in Chilliwack, the resources are closer to home and that we’re going to be able to serve people of Chilliwack so much superior than what we have been in the past,” said Chilliwack MLA John Martin.
“I guarantee you will have families moving to Chilliwack because of this centre and because of your community,” said Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, co-founder of PAFN.
PAFN board member Peter Raptis said the geographic location of Chilliwack is “not just strategic but very critical” because it will serve people in the Fraser Valley and in areas in between their three other locations: Richmond, Prince George and Kelowna.
“[Chilliwack] is the second largest city in the Fraser Valley Regional District and this hub really acts as a key connector to our hub-and-spoke system of what we have with PAFN. Our goal is to connect all people in British Columbia… so we can service as many families across the province as possible,” Raptis said.
The PAFN opened its first location in Richmond in 2016 and has been supported by the Saccomano family even before that.
Steve Saccomano, who is a parent of a child with autism, started an annual fundraiser golf tournament in 2014 to raise money for the PAFN. Funds raised during the annual Saccomanicas Golf Tournament (held this year in August in Pitt Meadows) helped to make the Chilliwack location possible.
“This network is only possible if a community steps up, and a community stepping up is only possible if there’s leadership, and here you sure have leadership. The PAFN spoke here in Chilliwack is blessed with the fantastic leadership of the Saccomano family,” Lisogar-Cocchia said.
People don’t have to have a diagnosis or have autism to come into the centre and use its services.
The Pacific Autism Family Network – Fraser Valley Spoke is located at 46151 Yale Rd. in Chilliwack.