Our staff knows the journey parents walk….most of us have walked the journey, too. Call us – you are not alone!
Frances McBrayer, Executive Director, [email protected] Frances is thrilled to be the new Executive Director of FOCUS + Fragile Kids! Frances is a FOCUS parent and a licensed social worker in Georgia. She has a child with cerebral palsy, and her first event with FOCUS was the 2015 holiday party when her daughter was one year old. Frances most enjoys attending FOCUS activities with her family and is looking forward to meeting new families at upcoming events. Frances hopes to lead FOCUS + Fragile Kids into a bright future by continuing to serve as a vital place of community for children with special needs and their families.
Lucy Cusick, Executive Director Emeritus, [email protected] “Have Courage – Be Kind” Lucy first found FOCUS after the premature birth of her son Josh. Diagnosed at age 2 with cerebral palsy (and now age 34!!), Lucy lives what FOCUS parents live each day. Josh continues to teach Lucy patience, tenacity, and courage. She believe that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar, but that a little bit of vinegar every day is good for you! When not working, Lucy is gardening, practicing yoga, or enjoying her life as a Crazy Cat Lady!
Joy Trotti, Associate Director, [email protected]
“Look for the rainbow after the rain.” Joy came to FOCUS as the mom of Rachel, her medically fragile child. She stayed, even after her death, because FOCUS is family. Joy loves all FOCUS + Fragile Kids kiddos, and especially loves seeing families having fun at Family Camps. When not in the office, Joy can be found at Lake Junaluska – or hoping to go there soon!
Patty Vastakis, Operations Manager, [email protected]
Like many of the other FOCUS staff, Patty volunteered for FOCUS before coming on staff. Her sister Anna found FOCUS after the premature birth of her son, Nick,in 1989. Their big Greek family surrounded Anna and her family after Nick’s birth, but they we never really knew what to say or do. FOCUS helped her find resources and information after Nick was diagnosed with cerebral palsy; Anna was a regular at the Dekalb Share Group and found that she liked helping other parents. Patty volunteered with her at the very first FOCUS fashion show, helped at the dinner dance, and was then recruited as the office manager. Funny, my biggest fear about working at FOCUS was that I wouldn’t have enough to do … that’s a laugh! Her family continues to support FOCUS, out of gratitude and admiration for the wonderful children and families. When not working, Patty is busy with my big fat Greek family or watching Cupcake Wars and Project Runway!
Brian Darden. Program Director, [email protected]
As Program Director, Brian stays busy helping and supervising all the programs FOCUS offers. He is also the director of moving furniture around the office, figuring out IT solutions, (aka unplugging cables and pretending he’s found a solution), and learning about our Salesforce database! When not in the office Brian enjoys running, playing guitar, and binge watching whatever I can find!
Sarah Wigton. Program Manager, [email protected]
Sarah joined FOCUS + Fragile Kids in October 2017 and jumped right in! She coordinates Extra Special Saturday respite, day camps Camp Hollywood and Camp TEAM, overnight Camp Infinity and OctoberFest, and is support staff at other programs. Sarah loves anything outdoors and is a great addition to our staff!
Jaide Camacho. Program Coordinator, [email protected]
Jaide is best known as “Axel’s mom” and comes to us with much knowledge about parenting a medically complex child. Through her life, she’s lived in Tennessee, Roswell, and CHOA! In August 2018, at age 2, Axel earned his angel wings; Jaide is excited to stay in the FOCUS Family and to help other parents and children. As a Parent Coordinator, Jaide will plan and implement Share Groups and FOCUS on Moms, Hospital Support, and Workshops & Conferences and will assist with Day Camps, Family Activities and other programs.
Audrey LeSage. Program Coordinator, [email protected]
Audrey is a recent graduate from Central Michigan University with great experience in inclusive recreation. Audrey worked at Sparrowwood at Camp Glisson for several swimmers and has worked 1:1 with a young adult with disabilities. As a Parent Coordinator, Audrey will plan Family Camps, FAST Fins Swim Team, Teen & Young Adult Activities and assist with Day Camps, Family Activities, and more.
Devi Knapp. Equipment Coordinator, [email protected]
Devi Knapp is a mom, wife, friend, daughter, artist, photographer, art educator, blogger, baker, mental health advocate… the list can go on! Devi has volunteered, first with the Fragile Kids Foundation and now with FOCUS; she especially loves helping with art projects for our FOCUS moms! When not at work or with her family and friends, she can be found blogging about the ups and downs of living with mental illness (see her blog “Yet Another Hot Mess”), doing photography, reading, or baking.
Celia Lawton. Community Involvement Coordinator, [email protected]
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” ~ Psalm 126:5
Raising children with special needs is tough—and it takes its toll. As much as you try to stay strong, the tears occasionally fall—sometimes from exhaustion and sometimes from a longing for the “normal” life that you wish you had. But in the end, when you look at your children, and see all their special gifts and their accomplishments, there is a joy you experience like no other. To Celia, writing is like paint to an artist. She combines descriptive words to give the reader a clear and vivid image of FOCUS and what we do for special children and their families. Celia came to know FOCUS through the programs that her children attended when they were young. After writing business proposals for the private sector for a number of years, Celia began to utilize her writing skills at FOCUS. Celia loves to hike and enjoys being outdoors on warm, sunny days.