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Kelly Autism Program, Sunrise build partnership


The Opportunity

"So they began this good work" (Nehemiah 2:18).

The specific challenge for Sunrise and the Kelly Autism Program (KAP) was to equip a young autistic adult with the tools needed to successfully transition to independent living. KAP had years of experience in working with ASD individuals. Sunrise had a proven transition program in VentureON for young adults who had aged out of foster care.


"The God of heaven will give us success" (Nehemiah 2:20).

Matthew (Matt) Aronhalt enrolled in the Next Generation Initiative pilot program in February 2017 for a one-year term. He was 22 years-old and had a diagnosis of ASD and Asperger's. He is a Western Kentucky University graduate, who was working at Blue Cotton Industries in Bowling Green. By the end of the program, Matt was living in a safe, furnished apartment; he was paying his household expenses; and he was driving. "My first drive on the test, I passed!" exclaimed Matt. It was obvious to all that the pilot program was indeed a success.

Origins of the Kelly Autism Program

"I am carrying on a great project" (Nehemiah 6:3).

"I have a 31-year-old, autistic daughter," shared John Kelly, founder of KAP. "She's non-verbal with a number of other disabilities. She was diagnosed at 18 months." He knew that his daughter and others with ASD were capable of more. Conversations with his daughter's therapist eventually led to the creation of KAP in 2002, now located at WKU, which houses an early childhood program; a seven to 21-year-old program; a college program; and the newest program called the Next Generation Initiative (the pilot program).

A Story Not Yet Completed

"And all the people lifted their hands and responded" (Nehemiah 8:6).

"So here's the thing, Matt," shared Dale Suttles, Sunrise President, as he spoke during Matt's discharge from the pilot program. "You're going to go out and blaze a new trail; but you go find folks and you become that mentor to them. You are proof that it can get done. You're an inspiration! Go do it!"

The only missing piece is you. Will you consider supporting Sunrise's VentureON program? We currently are in need of new and gently used furniture, kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, towels/washcloths, gift cards, and most certainly prayer. In the words of President Suttles: "You're an inspiration. Go do it!"

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