Meet our Volunteers!
¡Hola! Mi nombre es Ashley Lira-Rivera y soy una estudiante de segundo año en la Universidad Estatal de Middle Tennessee. Me especializo en Biología con una concentración en Genética y Biotecnología y mis subespecializaciones son Árabe, Desarrollo de la Vida y Química. Por el momento trabajo como asistente médica, pero espero avanzar más en el aspecto médico y eventualmente trabajar con Médicos sin Fronteras. Decidí ser voluntaria en Autism TN por la amabilidad del personal y su dedicación a dar a las familias el apoyo que se merecen. Autism TN ha dado esperanza a mi familia, algo que espero que llegue a todos los que lo necesiten. Estoy realmente agradecida por la oportunidad de ser voluntaria de una organización tan maravillosa.
Translation: Hello! My name is Ashley Lira-Rivera and I’m a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University. I’m majoring in Biology with a concentration in Genetics and Biotechnology and am minoring in Arabic, Lifespan Development, and Chemistry. I currently work as a medical assistant, but I hope to advance more into the medical field and eventually work with Doctors Without Borders. I decided to volunteer at Autism TN because of the staff’s kindness and dedication to giving families the support they deserve. Autism TN has given my family hope, which is something I hope reaches everyone in need. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to volunteer for such a wonderful organization!
I volunteer because it brings me joy to help the Autism community. I started volunteering when my grandson, Ryan was diagnosed with autism. Even though he lives in KY, I realize that parents need help. I feel that even the smallest thing I do may help someone.
My autism journey started with my wonderful son around age 3 but he did not receive his diagnosis until age 8. He is now 10. I wanted to volunteer because I can relate with the challenges families face when raising a child with autism. We need each other for support, understanding and encouragement. My hope is that one day autism will be normalized and embraced by all, starting with education in the general classroom. Volunteering humbly reminds me that there are so many others facing similar challenges. Even if what I contribute helps in only a small way, it matters and hopefully furthers our collective goals.
Like most of us, I came to the world of Autism quite unintentionally. Diagnosed at 29 months, our son Eric has given us experiences that are familiar to all parents, yet utterly unique. Above all, we have learned that whatever happens, we must simply keep trying. Despite the roadblocks, despite the failures, despite the mistakes, we've learned that our charge is to never quit trying to help Eric become the best version of himself. Now 19, we hope and believe that Eric is on his way there. And we hope that we are, too.