Ameriprise Financial group helps students with autism

Ameriprise Financial
T.J. Schneckloth, right, superintendent of the Davenport Community School District, talks with members of an Ameriprise lunch group on Wednesday, April 19, during a meeting in Bettendorf. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Quad Cities area students with autism have received the gift of educational tools and toys that were donated by members of an Ameriprise Financial lunch group.

Those items were presented to T.J. Schneckloth, superintendent of the Davenport Community School District (DCSD), on Wednesday, April 19, during the monthly meeting of a women’s lunch group organized by Heather Link, a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services at 2525 Kimberly Road, Davenport. The donation was made during the monthly meeting held at the Hy-Vee Grocery Store Club Room, 2900 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf.

“They could use a little bit of extra help and this encourages and motivates other people to give. … As April is Autism Awareness Month, I thought this cause would be a great one to spotlight,” Ms. Link said during the lunch meeting that attracted about 20 people. (Many of the participants are Ms. Link’s Ameriprise clients as well as guests of the clients.)

Heather Link, a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, 2525 Kimberly Road, Davenport, has organized monthly financial meetings of area women. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

She added that the gathering was the last of six monthly meetings held since November. She wanted to conclude the series with a donation to help students with autism and a presentation from DCSD officials on the subject.

Although the monthly meeting series has concluded, Ms. Link said that more Ameriprise meetings might be in the works.

“My ultimate hope is to create semi-annual events like this for single, divorced and widowed women in our community, creating an opportunity for them to meet others and spotlight needs where they can be involved to make a difference,” she added.

Those donations presented Wednesday, worth about $200, included education-related items such as timers, a liquid motion bubbler, fidget stars and fidget slugs.

“Schools are financially strapped, so gifts like these are like sprinkles on the cupcakes,” Mr. Schneckloth said.

The superintendent – along with two of his colleagues – gave a brief presentation on students with autism in the school district. He added that every student with autism faces a different situation; some students need no additional help while others need significant help and resources.

Mr. Schneckloth and other school officials said they could not say how many students in the school district have autism. However, Courtney Olsen, the school district’s director of equity and learning support, said it has been estimated that one in 36 children have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

“Our goal is to meet their needs and help them grow,” Mr. Schneckloth told the QCBJ after the meeting.

He added that support from the Ameriprise lunch group and other organizations in the community is much like the “starfish story.” Versions of that story focus on a boy on a beach who comes across many starfish that have washed on shore after a storm. He starts throwing the starfish back into the ocean before they die. Eventually, a man comes along and tells the boy: “Do you realize there are miles of beach and many starfish? You can’t make any difference.” The boy listens, picks up another starfish and throws it back in the ocean and replies: “I made a difference to that one.”

“We have many starfish waiting to be thrown back into the ocean,” Mr. Schneckloth said.

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