A lack of services in West Virginia has inspired the mother of a son with autism to found her own nonprofit organization, Ben’s Friends Charity, which provides toys and products for autistic people of all ages and abilities.
As explained in a report this month WV Gazette Mail, the organization was founded by Amanda Herbine, who moved from Pennsylvania to West Virginia with her 5-year-old son, Benjamin Isaiah, in Spring of 2019. In Pennsylavnia, Benjamin had received had received speech and occupational therapy, and developmental and behavior health in-home services. In West Virginia, where approximately 6,000 children have autism, those services were suddenly no longer available.
“I immediately enrolled him as a homeschool student with Nicholas County, and set up a full therapeutic classroom in my home to help my son succeed and overcome the everyday challenges he faces living with autism,” Herbine said.
Wanting to help the thousands of other West Virginia children like her son, Herbine founded Ben’s Friends Charity, a sensory store based in Richwood, Virginia. Parents from all over the country have learned about the store through the internet and mailings.
“We donate our proceeds to autism research, education services and local West Virginia families living with autism,” Herbine said. “When you purchase an item at Ben’s Friends, you’re just not receiving that item, you’re donating to autism and the money stays here in West Virginia where we need it the most!”