Community

$110K Grant for Gateway

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Moran Foundation Supports Autism Independence
IMG_2204bBy Mia Freneaux
Pictured, left to right: Katie Moran Jensen, Steve Whitlow, and Sharon Whitlow
In its inaugural event, the Thomas J. Moran Family Foundation made a presentation of four grants last Tuesday at TJ Ribs Restaurant.  After presenting checks to the Louisiana Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Louisiana, and Gaitway Therapeutic Horsemanship, Emcee Chuck Perrodin announced that a grant of $110,000 was being given to Gateway Transition Center.  
Calling them “interesting and innovative with the ability to inspire all those around them”, Mr. Perrodin described how Gateway directors Steve and Sharon Whitlow, faced with the challenges of finding a meaningful and fulfilling life for their son Sam, who is on the Autistic Spectrum, decided “it was better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, and in 2014 lit that candle when they created Gateway Transition Center to honor the inherent dignity of those with ASD while providing programs for employment and independence.”   Katie Moran Jensen, Thomas Moran’s daughter, then presented the check to the Whitlows.
Gateway Transition Center opened in Central in 2014 with a silk screen shop that offers on the job training for those on the Autistic Spectrum.  This center bridges the gap between high school and adulthood and gives participants the opportunity to gain independence and have a positive future.
“When we began Gateway Transition Center, we were blessed to not know what we were doing, how we were going to do it, and how we’d fund it.” Steve said as he accepted the grant, “Since then, we have been blessed with people along the way who helped guide us, including the great people on our Board.  Only one thing we lacked: money.  This (indicating the check) is the way problems will be solved in Baton Rouge, by all of us helping each other out.”
Steve went on to share that Gateway plans to open a second silk screen location in Baton Rouge proper with the help of the grant money.  In this way, the program can be accessed by more of those who can benefit from it.  At some point in the future, the Whitlows dream of opening a residential center that will enable those challenged with autism to live independent lives while being mentored.  
The Thomas J Moran Family Foundation is following in the footsteps of Mr. Moran himself, who in his lifetime made a habit of generously donating to worthy causes.  “TJ is very pleased with what we’ve done today,” Chuck Perrodin concluded, “In the light of day, we can see there is still much to be done.  Let us ‘cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light’, and go forth and ‘make it better every day!’”  Steve and Sharon and all those at Gateway Transition Center are doing just that.
Gateway Transition Center – 10510 Joor Rd. 384-6338.

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