VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - April, commonly known as Autism Acceptance Month, is a busy time of year for the Autism Society as it works to spread awareness and the acceptance of individuals with autism and their families.
2021 also marked the third consecutive year the Oxnard Police Department joined in this effort with educational community “pop-ups” and fundraisers. The department even had one of their patrol vehicles wrapped in support of the mission.
This year, the police teamed up with Autism Society Ventura County and local Starbucks stores to raise over $10,500 for the cause.
Funds were raised through the sales of Oxnard Police Department “Autism Awareness” patches, T-shirts and face coverings. These were produced through donations from title sponsor Stacy Miller Public Affairs, as well as the Oxnard Police Community Foundation.
“We believe every individual affected by Autism should have the ability to achieve their highest quality of life. We believe in celebrating our differences, as it is our differences that make us so tremendously unique,” said Miller.
The Channel Islands Farmers Market and local business owner Ron Wertzenberger of Ron’s Signs also donated services to the cause.
Oxnard Starbucks stores served as host to three police department pop-ups throughout the month. Starbucks also held a special collection for in-store donations. Local District Manager Anthony Valdez said, “When communities and leaders come together, we know that we can achieve greater things than when we are apart. Being involved is part of our mission and values at Starbucks. We are passionate about supporting the communities that we serve and the Autism Society is a great partner and well-deserving organization.”
The Oxnard Police Department said it strives to build strong community partnerships and assist Oxnard’s vulnerable populations.
Police Chief Jason Benites recognizes the importance of autism awareness and education. “As more attention has been brought to autism, it has become increasingly apparent how far-reaching this condition is," said Benites. "As more light is cast upon understanding, it brings it all home to many of us. More and more people have mentioned that they have someone in their family, be it a child, a sibling, or close relative, that is on the autism spectrum. We have a number of officers and staff members who have personal experiences and have shared them, and they are highly motivated to raise the level of both understanding and acceptance to the forefront.”
The Autism Society Ventura County was founded in 1994 by local parents, educators and professionals. Their mission is to improve the lives of all affected by Autism.