TEAMability celebrates 10 years of challenges and achievements

Submitted by Rudy Arispe on October 15, 2013 - 10:40am

Barbara Goldman recalled that when TEAMability was founded 10 years ago a team drove to area school districts to provide direct services to children and young adults, infancy to 22, with severe, multiple disabilities. At the time, no organization in San Antonio provided a holistic approach of providing special education, occupational therapy and physical therapy to these individuals.

“As soon as people knew we were in business, things snowballed,” the executive director said. “Parents and school districts began calling us. Our phone was ringing off the hook, which told us that nobody else in town was doing what we do.”

Since its inception, TEAMability has grown from an agency with a $5,000 annual budget in 2003 to an almost $1 million operating budget today.  It serves 40 clients per week with another 50 on a waiting list. “We can’t take on any more clients because our building is maxed out to capacity,” Goldman said.

This lack of space, which has forced Goldman and her nine-member staff to share offices with one another in a cramped 3,500-square-foot building on the West Side, leaves TEAMability with its most pressing need: a new building. “We need a building that can serve 125 families as we continue to grow our programs in the next five years. We also need to hire additional staff. But we need funding for all of this,” she said.

Funding is often a challenge for any nonprofit, Goldman said, but even more so for TEAMability that serves only 50 clients per year compared to other organizations that serve thousands of children annually. “Our numbers may be small, but the needs of these children are great. They deserve the opportunity to discover their abilities and to experience the joy of success.”

Teamability’s assistance reaches beyond the children it serves. The organization helps their families, too, who bear the challenge of caring for a loved who is profoundly disabled. It also provides education and training to health care professionals. In addition, the Parent Forum meets every other month when about 50 families meet to discuss various topics such as appropriate toys for Christmas, advocacy, and sleep apnea in children, among others. The nonprofit also hosts workshops for teachers and does independent assessments of disabled children at schools.  

Because of the feedback that Goldman receives from parents here and throughout the community, she knows TEAMability provides invaluable services.

“We get calls from all over the United States,” she said. “People ask us, ‘Do you have centers all over the country?’ It made us realize we are unique and nobody else is offering direct services the way we are doing it.”

Sylvia Ramos and her 12-year-old son, Robbie, rely on TEAMability for assistance. Each Tuesday, Ramos brings Robbie, who was born blind and with cerebral palsy, to the center for therapeutic services. “He has done a complete transformation,” Ramos said. “When he first came here five years ago, he was in a wheelchair. Now he can walk with a sighted guide. He would never have gotten to this point without TEAMability.”

In conjunction with TEAMability’s 10th anniversary, the organization has two special events planned. First, it will host a free screening of “Young Frankenstein” at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 at First Tee at Brackenridge Park. There will be a costume contest and a $5 raffle drawing for a one-night stay at the Westin La Cantera plus four Fiesta Texas tickets. Food and drinks will be sold. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.

On Saturday, Nov. 2, TEAMability will partner with Project Mend to host the 3rd annual Run & Roll 5K and 1-mile family stroll at 9 a.m. at the Medical Center campus track, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive. To register, contact Lisa Ballesteros at lballesteros@teamability.org or (210) 733-9050. For more information about TEAMability, visit www.teamability.org.