Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
December 7, 2022
Stephanie Engels | REVEL
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi, I am Stephanie Engels and I’m the executive director of REVEL. Our mission is to be the bridge to adulthood for people with autism helping them to live meaningful, enriched lives.
HOW DID REVEL COME TO BE?
As people turn 21, access to services drastically decreases and they are left feeling isolated and lonely. In 2016 REVEL was created by a team of therapists with 45+ years of combined experience in clinical, home, employment, and education settings. After watching our clients with autism transition to adulthood it was apparent there is a dire need to create quality programs to provide the support needed to ensure this population can lead independent, happy, fulfilling, lives within their community.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
The rates of isolation and depression are a major concern, especially in people with autism. One in four people with autism is socially isolated, the unemployment/underemployment rate is 85% with nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism never holding a paying job. Our purpose is to fight potential isolation, depression, unemployment, and risk factors related to quality of life. We do this by providing therapeutic and natural opportunities to teach life skills that enhance the lives of teens and adults with autism encouraging them to reach their fullest potential.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
REVEL impacts the autism community in the Denver metro area by creating opportunities that support each client on their individualized path toward independence. REVEL provides a comprehensive approach to supporting teens and adults with autism through behavior therapy, life skill development, employment support, and social-emotional connections.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
The REVELers. I’m constantly inspired and energized by the laughter and learning that takes place each and every day. No day is the same and I feel very grateful that I get to do what I love every day.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
REVEL provides people with a plan and a path. Our vision is that every person can live a life without limits. We want our REVELers and their families to realize the full potential that they are capable of and help them find their path to achieve their goals.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
As of 2021, one in 44 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Over the next decade, more than half a million people on the autism spectrum will become adults and age out of school-based autism services. Currently, both clinical support and funding are primarily focused on early intervention (birth to age three). Autism insurance legislation in all states provides access to medical treatment and therapies exclusively to children. Once an individual with autism enters adulthood, they age out of school-based programs, private insurance services, and both funding and programmatic support are very limited. Yet, we know that without lifelong, ongoing support, individuals with autism will regress in skill development and will be less likely to live independently, work, or become active members of their community resulting in taxpayers becoming responsible for providing financial support. We also have challenges with offering competitive pay to staff due to the Medicaid rates being so low, and the cost of living in Colorado being so high.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
REVEL was developed because we had the desire to create an environment for young adults on the autism spectrum, where they could feel comfortable, accepted for who they are, and allow for the opportunity for self-growth. We want REVEL’s contributions to impact the greater goal of educating and bringing awareness to the community and promoting and supporting a better quality of life for youth and adults with autism.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
There are two REVELer quotes I love: “I’m cool, not complicated.” and “You never gave up on me, even when I wanted to give up on myself.”
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
By lifting those around us, we all rise. Disability is part of the equity equation: all people deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. Learn more about REVEL by checking out our website and support us by making a donation.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give purpose-driven organizations that want to do PR the strategy, resources, and support they need to get started so they can increase awareness and maximize their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.