October 28, 2020 | Blog, Gamechanger
Donor Spotlight: The Langenfeld Family
“One thing COVID-19 taught us is that everyone needs a purpose–a place to go.” Randy Langenfeld said. “Being stuck in a house is not a good option for anyone, especially for people with autism.”
Now that pandemic restrictions have lifted, the Langenfeld family is grateful to resume their normal routine. Each morning, as their car pulls through the gate, Jennifer Langenfeld reads the large words displayed across the top of the building, “The Els Center of Excellence,” she proclaims aloud.
Jennifer is a 19-year-old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She is a student at The Learning Academy, a public charter school on campus, and is an active participant in Els for Autism’s programs and recreational activities.
To Cindy and Randy Langenfeld, The Els Center of Excellence campus is much more than beautiful buildings with a school and programs & services for their daughter. It is her future.
“When we first visited and learned about the vision for the campus, we felt that Jennifer would have a ‘home’ and be part of a community. We had never seen that anywhere else,” Cindy said.
The Els for Autism Foundation is undergoing a capital campaign to build a Sports Complex, Medical & Research Facility, and Adult Services Building. These additions to the campus are part of the Els Family’s vision—a model for the world of what services can be available to individuals on the autism spectrum throughout their lifespan.
In three years, when Jennifer graduates from The Learning Academy at The Els Center of Excellence, she will transition into the Foundation’s Adult Services programs.
“There are different options for schools and therapies, but as people get older, there is a void in services and support,” Randy said. “And once they graduate school, you’re not talking about 12 years–you’re talking about the rest of the years–many more years. It’s a lifetime commitment to care for someone on the spectrum. Most people don’t really understand what that means.”
Once built, The Adult Services Center will allow the Foundation to expand its adult programs, serving more adults in three critical segments: Employment, Independent Living, and Social/Recreation. The Langenfeld Family has generously contributed a major gift toward its construction.
“The ability to help other people with ASD and their families is a wonderful feeling,” Cindy said.
She is hopeful for the future and looks forward to seeing Jennifer and others continue to grow and lead productive, rewarding lives in the adult programs.
“Just because Jennifer is an adult doesn’t mean she can’t continue to make progress and take advantage of research and new interventions that are developed,” Cindy said. “I want her to have the best life she can.”