By Krista Pfunder
Graul’s Market is raising autism awareness by welcoming Pathfinders for Autism—a group that works to support and improve the lives of individuals affected by autism—to share resources in the parking lot of the market’s Annapolis location.
Pathfinders for Autism recently parked its tour bus in the Graul’s lot, inviting people to learn about the organization and about connecting with those with autism. It’s close to home for the Graul’s family, who counts a young man with autism among its valued employees.
Pathfinders seeks to let people know there are resources out there—like its online database of therapy and other services available to both kids and adults with autism and their families.
“We offer free training to educators, hospital personnel, first responders and family members,” says Katie Ramirez, director of development for Pathfinders for Autism. “We provide recreation events free of charge. Events take place at notable venues throughout Maryland such as National Aquarium in Baltimore, Science Center, Maryland Zoo, Aberdeen Ironbirds, and Ladew Gardens. These events give our families an opportunity to enjoy a family outing at no cost and a chance to meet other families and connect with the autism community.”
The bus tour is the organization’s answer to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
“Our bus tour started as a way for Pathfinders for Autism to bring our resources and information back into the local communities after a year of having to cancel in-person events,” Ramirez says. “The goal of our bus tour is to build awareness, reach our families, and challenge the Maryland community to dip into their hearts and support our mission.”
The bus isn’t stopping in only Annapolis. It will travel the entire state of Maryland, ending its tour along the Eastern shore at the beginning of October.
“The tour ends at our inaugural Run Wild for Autism at Assateague Island,” Ramirez says. “Our hope is that the bus tour will expand our reach and help us add to our portfolio of programs, events and donors.”
One family with a close connection to Graul’s has taken advantage of the resources offered by Pathfinders to Autism. Maximilian (Max) Mazer—who lives with autism and attends Anne Arundel Community College—has worked at Graul’s Market since 2017.
“I stock shelves, straighten shelves, help customers and enjoy getting to know people,” 20-year-old Max says.
“Pathfinders for Autism integrates everything together in a package,” says Max’s dad, Josh Mazer, “from the newly diagnosed to helping with employment.”
For more information, visit pathfindersforautism.org or call the resource center at 443-330-5370.