Local Non-Profit Works to Open Support Center for Autistic Adults
Meet Bella Bregar, a retired special education teacher from the State College area who has been working tirelessly to raise funds for her non-profit organization, the Benjamin Plum Farm.
“I had been a special-ed teacher for 37 years and have always had a passion for working with the autistic and special needs population,” Bregar said. “I always kept in touch with my students after graduation and found that services drop off severely after 22.”
Bregar hopes to raise enough funds to purchase the Benjamin Plum Farm, located in Boalsburg, to use as a support center. The farm is large enough to host a number of activities to benefit adults with special needs — who she said oftentimes don’t have the same access to resources as they did when they were younger.
“The sky is the limit on the farm,” Bregar said. “We want the farm to be a part of the community and the community to be a part of the farm.”
The Benjamin Plum Farm
Bregar said that activities would range from therapeutic horseback riding to night classes. Student Mary Krupa, better known as the infamous Penn State Squirrel Whisperer, is involved with the project and thinks the farm could be a benefit to the entire community.
“The most exciting part about this, at least for me, is that this farm won’t just benefit autistic people — it’ll benefit the whole community by providing volunteer opportunities, selling baked goods and farm produce, and offering horse boarding,” Krupa said. “Plus, since opportunities like this for autistic adults are so rare, the farm will probably even entice people to move into our area.”
Bregar, who taught Krupa from grades 9-12, is thankful for her help with the non-profit.
“She is like the poster child for the farm,” Bregar said. “A place where we can be proactive for the adults in this area and help them achieve the life that they want for themselves, not just a life that society says you will fit into.”
The non-profit will need to raise enough money by June 2015 in order to make the support center a reality. Those who wish to donate to the Benjamin Plum Farm can visit their website.