The founder and president of the charity Justice 4 Autism, Eufrasia Rodriguez, sells handmade aprons to raise money for autism. She initially started making them as Mother’s Day presents. Her aprons, often retro-styled, are themed with different fabric patterns, often featuring references to pop culture. One taco-patterned apron totes the slogan, “Hakuna Ma-Tacos.”
“People loved them and would ask me to make them one,” she wrote over Facebook Messenger. “I told them sure, just make the donation to Justice 4 Autism.”
The Start of a Charity
Rodriguez and her husband founded Justice 4 Autism after her son, Justice, was diagnosed with autism. Rodriguez said that at first, they were raising money for Justice’s school, Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI). Their organization didn’t become a 501(c)(3) charity until he moved on to kindergarten. She now runs an Etsy shop, Aprons 4 Autism, to fund the group. Besides aprons, she also makes dish-towel dresses and witch hats for the fall.
“Our mission is to raise awareness, acceptance as well as funding for autism-based programs.”
The charity hosts events for children both with and without autism.
Rodriguez said that in the past, they’ve hosted events at California Pizza Kitchen near Smithhaven Mall. In February, they hosted an event at a local bagel store where kids could make crafts and bagels. Even more recently, they rented the movie theater PJ Cinemas for kids to watch “Avengers: Infinity War,” and they plan on holding a similar event for “Incredibles 2.”
“It’s actually to get [kids with and without autism] together so they can experience each other in a social setting while trying something new,” Rodriguez said. “We try to expose them to things that maybe they can do as an occupation. You never know what they will be good at or what they will enjoy.”
The charity raises about $2,000 a year, and besides organizing events, donates to local charities such as Families in Arms and EJ Autism Foundation. Rodriguez’s aprons are also sold in Fantasia Bridal.
“We encourage everyone to give to a charity that is 100% and an amazing cause,” wrote Alicia LaGala over Facebook Messenger, through Fantasia Bridal’s Facebook account.