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Red Wagon News

Taste, Buds.

The first 12-week series of Taste Buds came to an end October 4th. Providing this service for the first time, we were excited to see the results of
the children receiving therapy. One of the many successes was Dylan, a 4 year old who has struggled with eating challenges. After being chosen to participate in the sessions that started June 28th, Dylan has had a number of both small and big accomplishments that his family couldn’t be happier about. Here is what his father, Robbie Weyand, had to say about Dylan’s progress and the Tastes Buds program.

Describe Dylan’s challenges with feeding prior to beginning Taste Buds:
Looking back on my son, Dylan, the very first sign of Autism was his lack of appetite. As a baby he ate anything & everything, then at around the age of two he stopped eating and drinking. Dylan lost weight and for the next few years he lived on milk, PediaSure, and a few salty, crunchy snacks.

What difference have you noticed since beginning Taste Buds?
We have seen a huge improvement at home with Dylan since we started Taste Buds. Dylan is willing to try new foods. He is also joining us and his brother at family meals. Dylan is eating, really eating. Our son has gained 11 pounds since beginning Taste Buds on June 28th.

How has the service supported you as a parent to address Dylan’s feeding challenges?
The support we’ve received through this model of intervention has been awesome from the one on one discussions on strategies with his therapist, to the group meetings with other parents… I couldn’t ask for more. Dylan gets to eat with other children like him, giving him a lot of peer support that he needs. I really believe the peer support from friends is the best part of Taste Buds.

What would you say to other parents experiencing similar challenges?
I would say to other parents, “You’re not alone.” Eating is so hard for our little ones, but it gets better with lots of help from others, time, patience, and lots of love. They may not eat today, tomorrow, or the next week, but it will happen. It’s happening for our son now.

You can click Here to learn more or call this number for detailed information 850-434-7755

You’re not alone

October Memberships & Donations

Mary Nell Adams
Liza Banks
Alice Dillard
David Allen Frise II
Andrea Hamilton
Nita J. Hooks
Natalie Hurd
Regina Jennings
Eunice Lewis
Stacey Lewis
Amy Warrington
Michael Willis
Betty Wilson

Becky Bulla
Kari Cashio
Debra Frye
James Miller
Nelda Patterson

Scott Arnold
Mr. & Mrs. Norman Chapman
Regina Hennard
Michael & Dawn VonStein

Fisher Brown Bottrell

Hal Cowen
K.P. Hogan
Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge 497
Ernie Lee & Christine Magaha
Robert Stone/Game Stop Hwy. 29
Roland Legaspi for Adult Enrichment

In Memory of Carolyn Woitas:
Patricia Ostrem
W. Luther & Kathy Taylor

In Memory of Ernestine Baars Connell:
Anglin Reichmann
Bob & Linda Bloom
Edwin & Deborah Epstein
Andrew & Elizabeth Epstein
Bobbie & Bill Godwin
Hiles-McLeod Ins. Inc.
Stella G. Hopkins
Lynda Kelly
Alan & Marjorie Moore
Larry & Charlotte Northup
Mr. & Mrs. James Prim
Donald & Mary Todd, M.D.
Joseph & Karen Webb

In Memory of John Machail:
Bob & Linda Bloom

In Memory of Marvin Spellings:
Larry & Charlotte Northup

In honor of Derek Connell’s Birthday:
Alan & Marjorie Moore


Pediatric Services Expanded

With funding from Escambia Children’s Trust, The Arc Gateway implements new “Help Me Grow” initiative. The Arc Gateway, a local non-profit organization providing empowering opportunities to those with intellectual and


New Mobile Shredding Services

Thanks to a grant from Pensacola Bay Area IMPACT 100, we now offer on-site shredding services with our Mobile Shredding truck! When you shred with us, you turn your paper


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Dawn VonStein

Pollak Training Center Program Manager

A native of Pensacola, Dawn VonStein graduated from the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education.  She began working at The Arc Gateway in 1993 as a support specialist for the Women’s Training Center where she felt she could use her teaching background to help teach daily living skills to the women at the group home. When asked why she has made her career at The Arc Gateway she says it is, “because there are few other places I could work where every day is different, I feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life, and I am truly loved by those I serve.”

Dondie Roper

PALS Program Director

Dondie is an innovator with more than 15 years’ experience driving results in program management, marketing, and media production. In addition to her studies in Journalism and Communication Arts at the University of West Florida, Dondie has received certification in Nonprofit Management. Dondie is very active in the community serving on board of directors for area nonprofit organizations, secretary/treasurer for UWADA, Loaned Executive with United Way, and volunteer with Special Olympics.

Jennah White

Special Projects Manager

Jennah began her journey with The Arc Gateway in the fall of 2016 as an assistant to Human Resources. During her time with the agency, Jennah has acquired her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology along with a Certificate in Human Resources both from The University of West Florida.  Jennah can be considered a “jack-of-all-trades” thus securing her role as the Special Projects Manager (Office Manager). She also takes an active role in her community as a member of Pensacola Young Professionals.

Níta J Hooks

Senior Adult Program Manager

Níta started working at the Arc Gateway in January 2019 as the Senior Adult Program Manager. She began working in the Developmental Disabilities field in 2015 as a Support Coordinator and has worked as Supportive Living Coach and a QMRP. Níta earned an Associate Degree in Pre-Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master of Education in Mental Health Counseling. She also worked as a Licensed Clinical Mental Therapist in Mississippi with all populations. “It is a joy to get up each morning, come into the program and work with such a wonderful group of people who keep me on my toes. I wouldn’t trade this job for anything in the world.”

Amanda Holtzhower

Human Resources Manager


Rebecca Baron

Residential & Community Service Director

Rebecca is a Pensacola native who graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has been a part of The Arc Gateway team for over 2 decades, starting her career with us in 1997. Rebecca’s first position with The Arc Gateway was a Support Specialist in the Pal/Ace program. From that role she became a Group Home Manager with one of our female group homes, then moved into her current position as Director of Residential and Community services. “I love making a difference in the lives of people we serve and assisting them to achieve their goals and gain skills toward independence.”

MaryAnn Bickerstaff

Children’s Services Director

MaryAnn Bickerstaff began her career at The Arc Gateway in 1986 as an Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist soon after completing an internship with the Pearl Nelson Center’s Early Intervention and Preschool programs at the completion of her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education at the University of West Florida. After working in this role for four years, MaryAnn became the Early Intervention Coordinator and in 1990 assumed the position as Children’s Services Director. During this time, she is proud of the program’s growth and diversity in funding, including grants and fundraising activities, but she is most proud of the impact her team is making in the lives of children every day. MaryAnn is very engaged with community partners and serves on the Board of the Early Learning Coalition and the Operational Support Team of Achieve Escambia among others. MaryAnn is a proud to be a native of Pensacola.

Stephen Rampersad

Chief Advancement Officer

Stephen Rampersad lives in Pace, Florida, with his beloved wife and two sons. He’s deeply involved in community advocacy, but cherishes the role of fatherhood above all else. Stephen’s commitment to community engagement shines through various roles such as Chief Advancement Officer at The Arc Gateway, Board President of Hope Above Fear, and Ambassador for the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. When he’s not busy with his professional responsibilities, Stephen enjoys spending quality time with his family and finding peace in the tranquility of fishing. He values life’s simple pleasures and approaches each day with gratitude.

Lea Farrington

Chief Financial Officer

Lea joined The Arc Gateway in 2021, bringing with her over 18 years of experience in finance and accounting.  Lea earned her Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance and management at the University of Mobile in Alabama and a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of West Florida. Lea is also a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida. For several years, she has worked in the nonprofit industry, both domestically and internationally. As a Pensacola native, Lea is passionate about meeting the needs of the Northwest Florida community. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her family and living up to her “boymom” title.

Cathy Lauterbach

Chief Operating Officer

Cathy Lauterbach has shared her talent with The Arc Gateway for over two decades. A California native, Cathy obtained a bachelor’s degree in management from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. She began her employment with the agency in 1995 as an employment specialist. From that role, she became the program manager at the Pollak Training Center before moving into the position as director of Residential and Community Services, and now her position as COO overseeing adult programs at The Arc Gateway.

Melissa Rogers

Chief Executive Officer

Missy has been working in the field of developmental disabilities since 1997.  Throughout her career she has performed in a variety of roles including direct care, case management, fundraising and administration.  Her extensive knowledge base and experience allows her a unique perspective and understanding of issues facing the disabled community.  Missy’s passion and dedication can be felt in her decision-making process as she always puts the best interests of those being served by the agency first.  In her spare time, she can be seen acting with a local dinner theater acting troupe. Missy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Elon University in North Carolina and is originally from Virginia.