Just hours after discovering its offices were burgled, a Lakewood nonprofit staged a workshop for parents with special-needs children.
A locksmith changed the locks and staff cleaned in the background as parents gathered for the Exceptional Families Network’s two-hour presentation on getting services for kids with special needs, said Angela Fish, the nonprofit’s executive director.
“Try to stop us!” the organization posted on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon.
Fish said staff members arrived at the offices at 5605 100th St SW, about 10 a.m. Saturday and discovered the door to the building was open.
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“They stole everything electronic except for the copy machine,” said Fish. Fish worked until 11:15 p.m. Friday preparing for Saturday’s seminar.
She restocked the office supplies, and all of it was missing the next morning.
Also missing were items for an upcoming fundraising auction, some of the staff’s personal belongings and the warranty information for the electronics.
As of Saturday afternoon, the staff was still taking an inventory of everything that was missing.
“Judging by the number of things that were missing they either had a lot of people or they made many, many trips,” Fish said.
Fish said the organization is insured and several members have already been contacted about donating to the organization.
Donations can be made via the website, exceptionalfamilies.org.
“We are super thrilled that people are responding because that is going to help us get on our feet faster,” Fish said. “Whoever did this, they have impacted hundreds of families that have kids with autism and other special needs. It’s not about us, it’s about the fact that they’ve impacted our ability to reach thousands of people, and that is sad.”
Fish has two sons with autism, and they were with her Saturday.
“They had a lot of anxiety because it was out of our routine,” Fish said. “Trying to keep them calm so we could talk to the police and get the locksmith here all while teaching a class.”
According to its website, Exceptional Families Network started as an Olympia-based online support group in 2004.
It was based in Puyallup 2011-15, before moving to Lakewood in April 2015.