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Wednesday, Feb 19 2014 06:00 AM

Chamber welcomes H.E.A.R.T. Connection to Tehachapi

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Smiles bloomed in the late afternoon sun on Monday, Feb. 10, at the H.E.A.R.T. Connection Family Resource Center/Network. Shown assisting the ceremony of the ribbon cutting are (left to right) Claudia White, Susan Graham, Timaree Torres, Dian Schneider and Kathleen Kline. Photo by Ida Perkins

H.E.A.R.T. Connection Family Resource Center/Network celebrated its larger facility on 21600 Golden Star in Golden Hills with a Tehachapi Chamber Ribbon Cutting on Monday, Feb. 10.

H.E.A.R.T. stands for the words that encompass its mission: to supply parents of children with special needs with help, encouragement, advocacy, resources, and training. Children with all kinds of special needs qualify for this free assistance without any eliminating qualifications. There are no sign up fees or participation fees either. As family resource specialist Timaree Torres explains, the service range is wide. It covers mental health issues, autism, down syndrome, hearing impaired and the list goes on.

There are monthly support groups for parents, lay groups for children 0-5 years, mom's groups, and special events like in January when everyone could attend the local theater for free. "Services are here for anyone, any age, in any circumstance, from age 0 to death," said Vicki Slater, receptionist and librarian.

"We educate the parents on what resources are available, how to advocate within the school system and health agencies for their children's rights," said Torres. There are other offices in Bakersfield, Delano, Ridgecrest, California City and Lake Isabella.

According to Director Susan Graham, the entire program is based on grants and that's why it is free to the special needs children. The local phone number is 328-9055 extension 777. The number that services all offices is 1-800-210-7633.

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