A Touch of Understanding, Inc.

A Touch of Understanding's mission is to encourage acceptance and respect for all individuals. Our educational programs are designed to increase understanding of differences, thereby minimizing discrimination, bullying, and social isolation suffered by children and adults who are perceived as different for any reason, especially those with disabilities.

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Address: 5280 Stirling Street, Suite #102
Granite Bay, CA 95746
County or Parish: Placer County
Primary NTEE: Education 
Sub NTEE: Educational Services 
Executive Director: Leslie DeDora
Contact Email: debbie@touchofunderstanding.org
Primary Phone: 916-791-4146
Website: http://www.touchofunderstanding.org
ATOU was founded in the early 1990s by a father-daughter team, Edward Ennis and Executive Director, Leslie DeDora. Since incorporation in 1996, A Touch of Understanding has taken its message to more than 68,000 students in public and private schools as well as juvenile correctional facilities, teacher trainings, colleges and fraternal organizations throughout the greater Sacramento region. Through its program, ATOU provides an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to serve the community as part of an inclusive inter-generational team. These volunteers have a powerful impact on the perspective of young people, strongly influencing their attitudes regarding people with disabilities. Students come to appreciate and respect them as individuals rather than devalue or fear them. The volunteers share their own personal challenges.
Bullying, teasing and disrespect in the school environment create barriers to learning, and cause serious emotional trauma for children who are singled out because of disability, race, culture, or any reason. Ignorance and misunderstanding are the root causes of the mistreatment and isolation experienced by people with disabilities, and others who seem different for any reason. Knowledge and understanding of individual differences is the key to acceptance and respect.
Our top needs:
  1. Funding: Unrestricted - Staff salaries. Managing nearly 100 volunteers, organizing the programs they serve, and providing direction and leadership to the organization as a whole requires the contribution of dedicated staff.
  2. Volunteers - At least four speakers (with disabilities) and four to eight activity station volunteers are needed at each workshop. Additional volunteers are needed to help with office work, to prepare materials for workshops, to plan and carry out fundraisers.
  3. Funding: Unrestricted - Basic office expenses: rent ($20,000 per year), telephone and supplies.
  4. Funding: Program - Travel and admission fees for Youth F.O.R.C.E. activities, so that more disadvantaged youth may participate.
  5. Furniture - Equipment replacement and repair: computer upgrades, copiers, furniture.
'A healthy community can be likened to a patchwork quilt. Each individual, like each square of a quilt, has his or her own unique pattern. For the individual, this is comprised of, among other things, personality, interests, abilities, challenges, and dreams. Just as the sewing of the squares forms a functional quilt, the connection of individuals forms a healthy community. Each individual is attached by a fine thread of understanding, acceptance and respect. A Touch of Understanding strives to create that thread where it does not exist and strengthen it where it does, especially for individuals with disabilities. Our disability-awareness programs have proven to create and strengthen this thread by increasing understanding, acceptance and respect for children on school campuses throughout the Greater Sacramento area. Our character-building programs teach the life skill of empathy towards individuals with disabilities. Understanding of and empathy for individuals with disabilities is a springboard for appreciation and respect for all people. ATOU is working with our young people, the crafters of our future, helping them to realize their personal value and their influence on those around them. We are asking them not to simply tolerate one another, not to coexist, but to get to know one another, to embrace their differences, and to connect with that thread of acceptance and respect. In doing so, A Touch of Understanding is empowering our young people to craft strong, functional communities on their school campuses and beyond.'

Leslie DeDora, Executive Director