The upcoming Strut4Autism fashion show, created by Hartford mom, Carmen Veal, is always a glamorous affair. “We have a great time. It’s one of my favorite events," she says, noting this year is particularly special, supporting an innovative idea that is soon to become a reality. “The proceeds will fund the scholarship grant for our new Autism Nanny Boutique. It’s a nanny agency specific to children with autism.” She got the idea after a terrifying incident: her daughter, Sania, now 12 and on the autism spectrum, swallowed plastic wrap while in an aid's care. “I didn’t find out about it until after she digested it,” says Veal. "It was a terrible experience. This nanny agency is a result of that experience.” She is recruiting potential nannies who must be college graduates with a specialty in human services. They must go through an intense program, teaching them specifics about working with kids with autism. A pilot program proved successful but there were kinks to be resolved. Now, the endeavor will officially launch in the summer.
This is just the latest project for Veal. In 2009, this spirited single mom founded Hope4Autism, a non-profit organization aimed at helping area families. She also created a Not-So-Typical Support Group, focused on the needs of parents - the subject of a Mommy Minute segment in 2012. The group is still going strong. Meetings are held once a month at Manchester Memorial Hospital.
The former clothing designer (now a hobby) started an event planning company called Carmen Veal Interiors. The service is focused on civic engagement and community service, often partnering with the city of Hartford on events such as a huge art crawl last September. “It was tons of fun," says Veal. But, that's not all! Veal has also launched a lifestyle web site - Hartford Girl - which she considers an "umbrella" to cover both her entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts.
How does Veal do it all? With focus, drive and a great support system. “I am very determined, very disciplined. I have to be, I have a lot going on and my daughter’s condition is a major part of everything I do,” she says.
Tickets are still available for the Strut4Autism, to be held April 18th at 6:30pm.
(I will be a model! Yay!)
Click here for information.