Alumna Starts Organization for Families With Special-Needs Children

By Hannah Werthan

In January 2012, Trishia Bermudez began taking classes for her MBA in Personal Financial Planning at Molloy. Two months later, she found out she was pregnant, and, during her pregnancy, she learned that her child would be born with a rare chromosome deletion. Determined to finish her degree, Trishia completed her studies and graduated in 2014. This year, inspired by her experience raising her son Matthew, she founded a nonprofit called Perfect Piece of the Puzzle to help parents who have kids with special needs.

Trishia Bermudez (MBA, ’14) Starts Organization for Families With Special-Needs ChildrenFor the past five years, Trishia has learned how difficult it is to navigate services for special-needs children, especially where she lives, in the Rockaways. When she was pregnant, she travelled all the way to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia for doctor's appointments because her pregnancy was considered high risk. The trip took an hour and a half by subway. After Matthew was born, she started taking him to appointments there as well. However, riding the train for such a long distance with a baby and a stroller proved to be very challenging.

Trishia began to change some of Matthew's doctors so that she could split appointments between NewYork-Presbyterian and Winthrop University Hospital. Though Winthrop is in Mineola on Long Island, not the Rockaways, Trishia felt that the hospital provided the care she wanted for Matthew at a more reasonable distance from home. She had to determine what was best for her family and advocate for herself and Matthew. In this case, having some doctors closer to her was the right move.

In order to find the right doctors, therapists, and schools for Matthew, Trishia has had to do a substantial amount of research. It is a difficult system to navigate, and it's hard to make such important decisions about your child alone, she says. Trishia realized that there are very few resources for parents who have kids with special needs in her community.

After receiving encouragement from her mom, Trishia decided she wanted to make life a little easier for these families. Perfect Piece of the Puzzle was born.

Trishia's vision for Perfect Piece of the Puzzle is two-fold: she wants to help parents who are financially struggling to care for their child, and she wants to bring resources to the Rockaways. "In the Rockaways, there is really just one form of transportation, so it is hard for parents to attend workshops in Brooklyn and Long Island. It's difficult to find the time, regardless of whether you are a single parent like myself or part of a two-parent household," she says.

Perfect Piece of the Puzzle held its first workshop for parents and guardians in July. They met at Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato's office.

With one successful workshop under her belt, Trishia is already planning the next one that will take place in September. She is also busy writing grant proposals, something she had never done before she started this organization. Her new role is completely different than her previous career as an accountant, but she wouldn't change a thing. "I truly feel that this is what I am meant to do. This is my calling," she says.

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