Belinda Martinez with STEP staff member Patricia Valladares.
STEP, Inc. would like to congratulate Belinda Martinez from Clarksville, TN who was selected as the recipient of STEP’s 2014 “Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award” during the Annual Tennessee Disability Mega Conference in Nashville last month.
Belinda is the mother of two children, a son who is 10 and a daughter who is 5 from Clarksville. Her journey started when she received the diagnosis from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital of Autism for her son when he turned 3 years old. From that moment she began to look for information and resources. Belinda realized that, in the area she lived at that time in 2006, parents with children with special needs didn’t have a contact person to ask for information about resources and other programs, especially for those who were new in the area.
Belinda began to look for information; this was made difficult, with no English and no knowledge about the area of Clarksville (Montgomery County). At the same time, she states: “I started building inside myself the gift to help others, and not allow new parents to be lost without information, resources, support, and training.”
In 2009, Belinda began to contact different organizations, non-profits, and government agencies. Belinda shared, “All the organizations that contacted me are very important and special to me. STEP, Inc. was the first organization that I contacted for information and resources of how to manage an IEP. STEP helped me with the tools and education that I needed to help my son to succeed in the school system, as well others families that I support in this area.”
Belinda is a volunteer “contact parent” for organizations like Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Autism Middle TN, STEP, Inc. and other agencies in the Montgomery County area and nearby counties for families with children and youth with autism and other disabilities. She now has a website and Facebook page to provide information to families called Focus Autism Now TN.
Belinda has dedicated countless hours to provide families with information, resources, leadership, and advocacy services for IEP's or any other type of service for the benefit of the individual. In addition, Middle Tennessee organizations contact me to update parents and provide new services for them. All the work that she does is done because she is passionate about helping families; her service to her community is completely free and voluntary. She is an amazing example of using your gifts to “create a brighter future for children with disabilities.
Click here to view previous winners