Joya has new name, logo and director
In its logo, the sun rising out of a cloud represents the joy and hope parents feel Joya Child and Family Development—formerly the Spokane Guilds' School and Neuromuscular Center—brings to families of little children with developmental delays and disabilities.
After 41 years as executive director, Dick Boysen retired June 30 and stepped into a volunteer capital campaign role as executive director emeritus.
Joya's program coordinator, Colleen Fuchs, who served as acting director for several months, began as executive director on July 1.
Dick made Joya a respected, comprehensive program with certified special education teachers, licensed therapists, pediatric nurses, social workers and a pediatrician medical director.
The program for children from birth through their third birthday is expanding. In 2017, Joya purchased the former St. Joseph Family Center at 1016 N. Superior in the University District to build a larger facility to meet the demand for early intervention.
Dick talked with Sr. Pat Millen, OSF, director of St. Joseph over 10 years about the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia selling to Joya as a way to continue the sisters' mission to help children and families on that site.
Before joining Joya, he was education director for Head Start of Spokane. He holds a bachelor's in anthropology from California State University at Northridge and two master's from Washington State University, one in child development and one in adult education.
"Both degrees help, because parent education is important. Children do better if their parents are involved. We help children do better than experts expected," said Dick, whose inspiration was David, a Burbank, Calif., neighbor and childhood friend who had muscular dystrophy.
"It planted a seed in me. David went on a bus to a school in Glendale because our school was not accessible," he said.
Dick said a group of local women, who were part of the Washington State Guilds for Retarded Children—even though none had a child with a disability—started the program in September 1960. They had taken gifts to children at Lakeland Village.
They started the school in the Sunday school building of Westminster Congregational Church at 4th and Bernard. When the church voted to join the United Church of Christ, many members left to form Plymouth Congregational Church. Westminster did not need all the space, so it leased rooms to the Guilds' School from 1960 to 1982, when the program moved to 2118 W. Garland, the former Garland Elementary School. They have a lease from Spokane Public Schools for $1 a year until May 2022. SPS was Joya's sponsor for Referendum 37 funds.
In 1979, Referendum 37 freed $25 million in state funds for rehab centers for children and adults. They used $250,000 to renovate Garland School.
Under Dick, Joya became a United Way Agency and the board hired a nurse, pediatrician, and physical, occupational and speech therapists.
Dick urged the secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services in Olympia to allow billing Medicaid to treat children with neuromuscular disabilities.
Joya also raises funds from events and donors. In 1982, it started a foundation and now has a $6 million endowment that gives the program $500,000 a year.
Joya differs from other providers, because it raises money to cover costs of services children need, so families do not decide what services a child will have based on what they can afford.
For 10 years, Dick and the board wanted a location in the university district.
• It is central to county services.
• The program trains students in higher education—nurses, therapists, social workers and other disciplines at the medical schools and universities there. Students gain experience with children with medically complicated and rare diagnoses.
• Access to the universities is also conducive for research on conditions and therapies.
Joya will raise $18.5 million for a 39,000-square-foot building with viewing rooms and the latest technology—breaking ground in August 2020. It will double the number of children they can serve from 300 to 600 annually.
"We changed the name to Joya because it means 'treasure' or 'jewel,' and that's how we see the children. We added Child and Family Development, because parents said we help them as much as their children," he said. "The name, Guilds' School and Neuromuscular Center, sounded like a sad, scary place, and it's not really a school.
It is now under the State Department of Health category of Neurodevelopmental Centers of Excellence. It's one of 19 and the only one in Eastern Washington.
"Many infants are 'graduates' of neonatal intensive care. We find that because of an infant's brain's neuroplasticity, many recover. It was previously believed that once the brain was injured, it would always be injured," he said.
Dick, who grew up Catholic, said faith instilled in him optimism and faith that people can create more positive outcomes.
Colleen has been connected to Joya for many years, first coming in 2000 after her fourth son, Tommy, had a stroke at the stem of his brain 16 days after he was born. He was not expected to survive. He was deaf, blind and comatose for two weeks.
At eight weeks, after he began at Joya, he started to wake up. At three, he "graduated," qualified for special education and attended St. Aloysius School, where Colleen taught. At 12, he was seizure free. He has just graduated from Gonzaga Prep and is beginning EMT training at Spokane Community College.
Colleen, who has lived within three blocks of the house on 400 E. Sinto where her father grew up, graduated from Gonzaga University in 1991 with a degree in early childhood special education. She taught many years half-time at St. Aloysius School. Her career includes being a public school liaison to St. Als qualified to teach special education, starting a catering business and collecting data for the University of Washington on early learning centers.
For his seventh grade service project, Tommy decided to do public speaking about the Guilds' School. He spoke at its benefit.
"I always dreamed of working at the Guilds' School, but knew no one leaves. At that banquet, the program coordinator, Marilyn Henderson, said she would retire the next June after 38 years." Colleen talked with Dick and was hired.
She supervised teachers and therapists and was acting director when Dick was on a health leave. After he retired, they hired her to help the program expand.
"We are where families are sent when their children have medically complex diagnoses," Colleen said. "Our philosophy is to pour on intensive, multidisciplinary services for a child's first three years.
On intake, Joya assesses gross and fine motor skills, speech and language, cognitive skills, self-feeding, social and emotional skills. Staff see children first in their homes. A resource coordinator coordinates the team working with parents.
If children are ready, they join toddler groups—two or three days a week for two to three hours—that include peer models who help them build language and socialization skills.
"Playgroups and story time are enriching for them, too," Colleen said. "The shift is from them going to play group with Billy who has Down syndrome to playing with their friend Billy."
Fifty-one percent left at or before the age of three with age appropriate skills, so they qualify for regular public school education.
"Good outcomes mean savings for the community," she said. "We refer children to Head Start, community preschools and neighborhood play groups."
Others qualify for special education in public schools, entering with skills to build on.
For information, call 326-1651 or email email@example.com
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, September, 2019