We Rock the Spectrum - Greater Richmond
Hello Greater Richmond, VA and Beyond!
We are Kristie Melson and Steven Zayas- Owners of We Rock the Spectrum Greater Richmond, check us out on Instagram and Facebook! We are kicking off our 2023 Fundraising Campaign and reaching out to share our story, our mission, and to connect and grow our community.
A Little About Our Personal Story:
We, along with our extended family, are carers to an Autistic person who is the entire reason and motivation behind our pursuit of opening a We Rock The Spectrum Gym. Since their diagnosis as a young child, our family has worked tirelessly to learn about Autism and learn about our person and their Autistic experience. We met with various therapists, participated in various therapies, and took classes from the Autistic community. We have learned and unlearned (and continue to learn and unlearn). We strive to work together, with our person, to create spaces, routines, and points of connection that are affirming and supportive of how we define our family and our community.
Over the years, we realized that advocacy was a daily part of our lives. Activities, outings, and spaces that were attended by friends and other families were not accessible to us. These activities, outings, and spaces were not prepared to accommodate and support sensory needs and other Neurodiverse experiences. We knew we needed places and people who really understood Autism and Neurodiversity, places where our person could be themselves without having to defend or justify their needs; where we could be with them to explore and play, and not have to worry about whether or not we would be understood… or asked to leave.
In 2022, we stumbled upon We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym. We researched the mission, the background, and the owner community. We found a place where our person could be themselves, where we could be ourselves, and where people really understood Autism and Neurodivergence.
This is when we decided we wanted to do everything we could to bring this space to our community.
A Little About our Business Story:
In February 2022, we made our first inquiry into joining the We Rock Franchise. Over the course of 2022, we met with the Franchise Development Director, a local Franchise Lawyer, a business coach with SCORE Richmond, and our personal financial planner. It was then in January 2023, after lots of meetings, mentor sessions, learning, and growing pains that we knew we were ready to step into the role of Owners and join the Franchise.
Once we joined the Franchise in January 2023, we then began the work of getting our location off the ground. With support from We Rock Corporate, local mentors with SCORE Richmond and Capital Area Small Business Development Center, and a great, and a local team of Real Estate Brokers and Architects, we started to tackle the specific action items needed in order to open We Rock the Spectrum Greater Richmond. All of this work has brought us to where we are today: we are so very close to having everything that’s needed to open!
When it comes to small businesses and getting off the ground, things often go differently than planned. In our case, the original source of funding has fallen through. We have evaluated various options, met with our mentors, and have received excellent support from We Rock Corporate. At the end of the day, bringing this Neurodivergent Centric, accessible, inclusive space to Greater Richmond is our mission, our passion, and our goal.
In order to do this, we are shifting strategies and collaborating with the Non-Profit My Brother Rocks the Spectrum to raise $100,000 by January 1, 2024 (if not, before!). We know, from personal experience and through relationships with others, that Autistic and Neurodivergent centric spaces are deeply needed in our communities. We are dedicated to making this happen!
What is My Brother Rocks the Spectrum (MBRTS)?
This 501(c)(3) non-profit is a sister company to We Rock the Spectrum and provides funding, when available, “to ensure ALL children can attend classes, social skills programs, and have one-to-one attendant care when needed; to support those with specials needs through employment and additional resources; and to aid community leaders fighting for children of all abilities.”
Are all Donations Tax Deductible?
Yes! Each donation made through our donate link is Tax Deductible. Whenever requested and/or once a donation is made, you will receive a document that includes MBRTS’s TIN and 501(c)(3) information for your tax records.
Will my donation go directly to Greater Richmond?
Yes! By using our unique link, your donation will be marked for We Rock The Spectrum Greater Richmond.
What if Greater Richmond does not reach their goal by Jan 1, 2024?
If the goal of $100,000 is not reached by January 1, 2024 we will reach out to each donor to inform them that we have not reached our goal and will give each donor the option of:
a) Transferring their tax-deductible donation to the general My Brother Rocks the Spectrum fund
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b) Receiving a 100% refund of their donation
What if I have other questions?
We welcome your questions!
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Email us at info@