Our staff knows the journey parents walk….most of us have walked the journey, too. Call us – you are not alone!
Lucy Cusick, Executive Director, [email protected] “Have Courage – Be Kind” I first found FOCUS after the premature birth of my son Josh. He continues to teach me patience, tenacity, and courage. I 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, I’m gardening, enjoying yoga, or caring for my Downton Tabbies.
Joy Trotti, Associate Director, [email protected]
“Look for the rainbow after the rain.” I came to FOCUS as the mom of Rachel, our medically fragile child. I’ve stayed, even after her death, because FOCUS is family. I love all FOCUS + Fragile Kids kiddos, and I love to see our families, especially having fun at Under the Stars family camps! When not in the office, I 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, I volunteered for FOCUS before I came on as a staff member. My sister Anna found FOCUS after the premature birth of her son, Nick,in 1989. Our big Greek family surrounded Anna and her family after Nick’s birth, but 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. I 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! Our family continues to support FOCUS, out of gratitude for helping my sister and out of admiration for the wonderful children and families. When not working, I am busy with my big fat Greek family or watching Cupcake Wars and Project Runway!
Brian Darden. Program Director, [email protected]
In addition to running programs (FAST Fins, Family Camps, Volunteers, Teen & Young Adult program), I am the director of moving furniture around the office and the emergency IT support, AKA unplugging cables and pretending I’m finding a solution! During FAST Fins season I spend as much time at the pool as I do at the office. When not in the office I can be found 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 LaSage. 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.
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. Writing to me is like paint to an artist. I combine descriptive words to give the reader a clear and vivid image of who we are and what we do for special children and their families. I came to know FOCUS through the programs that my children attended when they were young, and after writing business proposals for the private sector for a number of years, it soon made sense for me to utilize my writing skills at FOCUS. On a warm, sunny day one of my favorite things to do is to follow the path of a flowing stream of water while hiking through the woods.