Outstanding Contributions By Women In Our Community

Jessica Barisano

The Collaborative Corner For Exceptional Children

Tell us about yourself: I originally studied and worked in the hospitality and tourism industry and am married with two boys.  Our oldest son, Trent, was diagnosed with a Genetic Growth Disorder, Autism, Combined Type ADHD and Developmental and Speech Delays.

What led you to start the Collaborative Corner:  After Trent was diagnosed, I dove right in to try to figure out how best to advocate for our son, but found that I could not find all the information in one place. There was a lot of misinformation, and it wasn't easy to work across the different Specialists to build a cohesive care plan to support our son. As a working mom, I asked myself, “how are other working parents doing this? How are parents with multiple kids doing this?”. Ultimately, I decided to put my career aside to focus on supporting Trent’s needs.  Within the first 12 months, we recognized the gap and the need for all the information, therapies, and resources to be in one place. After we felt some stability with our son, we were able to work with some of Trent’s therapists to build out a collaborative model.  I launched within a few months and are opened “The Collaborative Corner For Exceptional Children” on April 1st in Oakland, Florida.

What recommendation do you have for families just starting on this journey? 

Take the time to process emotions that come with having a child with exceptional needs. Take the time to accept the differences in your child and focus on their abilities versus their disabilities. Give yourself time. Grieve as a parent. Grieve your dreams for that child. Work to change your mindset and always focus on what they can do versus what they cannot do because of their disabilities. Use their strengths. Remember that you are the advocate and expert on your child and are as much a part of their team as Specialists and Doctors.

Katie Aguirre

Hunter's Village Rescue

Tell us about yourself: Originally from Ohio, I moved here to be a teacher and now teach virtually, volunteer with 2nd/3rd graders at our church, and am married with a daughter in high school. We’ve also personally rescued 2 dogs and 2 cats. 

What led you to start Hunter’s Village Rescue:  Two years ago, I found myself invested in the outcome of a German Shepherd who was later named Hunter.  Hunter had been let go from his home, was afraid of adults, and was roaming the area, hungry and scared.  As no one was able to catch him, I hired some professional trappers to help, but once we had him, Hunter needed veterinary care. There were other associated expenses with getting him ready to be adopted by a loving family. I always say with rescuing animals, “It takes a village.”   After Hunter's success, we found ourselves constantly called or tagged to help with both lost and stray dogs. The Southwest Orlando community came together to help support Hunter and has continued to help support other animals in need.  This launched Hunter’s Village Rescue, which is now a 501c3 nonprofit. 

How can we support Hunter’s Village Rescue? 

   Foster:  Hunter’s Village Rescue is based on 100% fostered animals, so the biggest need is for people to foster animals.  In many cases, animals that need to be fostered may not do well with other animals, so homes that do not already have animals are ideal. You can learn more about Woody, a 2-3-year-old Bulldog Mix, who is looking for his Forever Home in the Around Town section of this issue!

   Donate: Donations are a great way to help support Hunter’s Village Rescue. We accept monetary donations, gently used and new dog supplies, as well as food and treats.

    Volunteer:  We are often in need of people to help transport pups, pick up supplies and/or medicines.

Hunter’s Village Rescue Volunteer Spotlight:  Jaime Pressman and her family (husband Steve and children Payton and Drew) have found a love for supporting both Hunter’s Village Rescue and the Pixel Fund ( Over the last year, they have helped to rescue 48 dogs and have fostered 6.  Jamie has networked with her friends and neighbors to organize many successful donation drives for supplies, treats, and food.

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