From Founder + CEO Tracy Sekhon:
There was a book written by Spencer Johnson in 1998 called "Who Moved My Cheese?" It's a motivational business fable that offers insight on dealing with change in your work and your life. I found myself reaching for that book last month, when the news broke that we would be required to stay at home to "flatten the COVID-19 curve."
It felt like whiplash to me; how we were forced to do a full 180 degrees in our business, in a matter of days. The uncertainty, and what felt like loss of everything I had been working so hard to create at ARTC, left me in a dark place. Albeit temporary, I had developed a very heavy heart that was now filled with fear, where excitement, joy and drive used to exist. It took some tears and some time to get through this, and on to a new plan. This pandemic, had in fact, moved our cheese.
I built ARTC to bring families together with the professionals who were passionate about supporting them and helping them find their way through the challenges of autism. Now, I was forced to minimize the center, the exposure and be cautious about inviting anyone in. While many of the services offered at ARTC are considered "essential," the risk was high and we have to be very cautious and methodical about treatments provided at the center. Our providers quickly moved to the Telehealth platform to continue to serve families, but the center was mostly empty.
I tried hard to hold on to the year's plans until we knew more. Our Grand Opening Celebration was supposed to happen on April 4th. The bounce house was reserved, the ponies were coming, UCSD Autism Center of Excellence and SDSU Center for Autism would be there, along with our partners at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. There would be food, drinks, and dance classes in the parking lot after the Poway Princess had greeted everyone. The flyers were printed and being distributed. We were going to open the floodgates and finally celebrate the center that we built for our community!
Our 2nd Annual ARTC Auction for Autism was planned for June 13th. I had hired the Emcee, reserved Bernardo Winery, started accumulating silent and live auction items and taking inventory of my supplies. I hired entertainment and put together the pamphlet. I had the flyer, postcard and social media posts designed. We were well on our way to our largest fundraising event of the year!
And overnight, the authorities said "No." The pandemic had changed everything. The Grand Opening Celebration was cancelled and the ARTC Auction for Autism was cancelled. Now what?
Once I was able to recover from what felt like a significant blow, I realized that we would just have to do business differently. We would have to focus on innovation. We would have to find new ways to bring ARTC to families. It was time to implement new ways of connecting. The world has changed. It is new. And, we are new.
We began conducting meetings virtually. We created a video of the center to share, as opposed to inviting anyone in for a tour. My team and I produced Provider Spotlights and webinars. We've created a lot of valuable content for our families. We stayed in touch.
And now, we are returning to the center that we love, to greet the families that we are so passionate about serving. Our doors are open, and we cannot wait to see you! I want you to know that we're communicating amongst ourselves regarding responsible distancing, constantly sanitizing surfaces, and staying diligent and informed on how we can go about the work that we love, while doing our part to keep our providers and clients safe.
We've found our cheese, and we'll continue to forge forward.
Wishing you great health, patience and peace,