Helping You Help Those In Need

WHO WE ARE

  •  SPACS focuses on the whole person, in four major areas: work, independent living, social development and self-esteem, and community involvement.
  •  Each participant has a instructor to assist in developing and achieving individual goals.
  •  Participants, their families and SPACS’s staff form a team to ensure successful attainment of goals.
  • Vocational services are an integral part of the program, as SPACS works with each individual to foster awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • All staff help participants establish satisfactory relationships and develop positive self-esteem.
  • Participants at SPACS are considered to be a family and are taught to trust and respect each other.
  • The need to be interdependent with one’s community is as important as the skills of independence.

WE ARE DEDICATED TO…

  • Supporting individual control by empowering individuals to take control of their life choices, as evidenced through meaningful and informed choices in relationships, employment, where and with whom to live and community participation.
  • Promoting community membership by supporting individuals to become valued members of recreational, political, educational, cultural, and religious organizations.
  • Advance one’s personal growth and accomplishments through a combination of personal choice and creative support.
  • Zealously guard individual rights (civil, human, and legal) and guarantee that individuals are treated with dignity through ongoing training supports and creative and effective administrative practices.
  • Encouraging relationships with families, friends, neighbors, and merchants, through everyday involvement in the neighborhoods and communities in which one lives.
  • Ensuring personal well being by supporting individuals to make appropriate financial decisions and healthy practices part of their daily routine.

WE ARE THE SMART PLACE

At SPACS, Each Individual Participant Is Important.

MISSION

Our mission is to support people with mental and physical challenges in a respectful, safe and productive environment that enables them to reach their highest level of individual independence while collaborating with families and other service organizations to expand each individual opportunities to engage in community activities that would otherwise be out of reach.

How can you make a difference?

GOAL

Our goal is to be the most sought after community-based program for the developmentally and intellectually challenged in the state of Georgia by fulfilling everyday dreams, learning necessary functional, vocational, academic, community, and daily living skills, and having a positive place in the world-are the goals of SPACS. In order to achieve the ultimate goal, there several areas of improvement that are intended to be addressed in the coming years. Those things include, but aren’t limited to:

  •  Strengthening our community relationships
  •  Broadening our community connections
  •  Increasing our participant numbers by 60%
  • Create new and fully functioning work programs for our participants
  • Deepen our social media scope to bring awareness to our center
  • Improve the vitalization and beauty of our building
  • Update our adaptive equipment, programs, and processes.

HISTORY

The Smart Place Adult and Children Services also known as “SPACS, Inc.”, is a non-profit, 501(c)3 community based organization.

Established in 2001 by Executive Director, Teresa Punzi, we continue to make an everlasting imprint of compassion on individuals we service. When asked, Teresa Punzi states, ” I believe the community of individuals we serve are unique and they impact our community in a positive manor.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Teresa Punzi and her talented team collectively have over 20 years of experience in the human services industry. The board of directors works diligently with Teresa to establish and fortify relationships in the community for our continued fundraising efforts.

TERESA PUNZI

Executive Director and Founder, The Smart Place Adult and Children Services, Inc.

As the Executive Director of The Smart Place, a non-profit service organization that is governed by DBHDD (Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities), Teresa has been the visionary for The Smart Places’ services for intellectually and physically challenged individuals for over 17 years. When realizing the dilemma that the special needs population was greatly underserved and underappreciated, Teresa decided to create a safe haven where these individuals could flourish by changing the way this population could receive their post education services. Because special needs individuals are one of the largest populations that is victimized, ignored, neglected and bullied, The Smart Place strives to break those barriers by providing multiple opportunities that help build self-esteem as well as job and social skills to assist in a more inclusive way of life. Some opportunities include the curriculum-based activities, sports training and job readiness training. At the center, the individuals are be able to actively determine what their day consists of and what they wish to engage in.  She is proudly responsible for a center that continuously promotes a sense of acceptance and reassurance, the atmosphere offers opportunities for growth, self-determination and happiness.

The Smart Place fully engages in the community, not only providing jobs for special people that serve special people, but by creating opportunities for volunteer efforts for the participants to give back to people even less fortunate than themselves and expose themselves to the other possibilities for growth.

As an entrepreneur, in the beginning it is natural to mirror your mentors and competition, but once you become successful, it is important to continuously challenge yourself. This mindset of be willing to stretch out of your comfort zone and surround yourself with other people who will make you raise your own expectations of yourself are the type of thoughts and actions Teresa continues to share with her staff and mentees. Professionally, her motivation comes from the sharing in the lives of the individuals the company serves. Although, she can stand strong on the strength of their service, Ms. Punzi is always challenging her staff and herself to do more.  They deal with very fragile individuals every day, and since she doesn’t know what they experience when they are not at The Smart Place, she is always motivated to give them the best experiences they can when the participants walk through the doors of The Smart Place! The company collaborates with various community organizations such as DBHDD, Dept of Community Health, Delmarva, The Dekalb Board of Commissioners, local Police and Fire Departments, Special Olympics of GA, Teen Works, NAACP, Dekalb Chamber of Commerce, Kashi and The Wade Walker YMCA.  Just recently, The Smart Place has been given a huge opportunity to expand their services. The day support services piece of her business has recently acquired a former DeKalb county school and is ready to be opening its doors in June of 2019! The Smart Place is currently accredited by CQL and is looking forward to becoming a Certified Autism Center in 2020.

One of Teresa’s favorite Quotes or Words of Wisdom come from Haim G. Ginott and she uses it in her trainings frequently with slight adjustments, she often says this quote can be used in any given circumstance. She believes that once a person understands how powerful their actions can be, hopefully they can govern themselves accordingly, both personally and professionally.

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

Haim G. Ginott

Reginald Johnson

Board Member

Reginald Johnson was born and raised in the County Line Community, in Atlanta, Georgia.  In 1980, Reginald graduated with his Bachelor of Arts Degree, in Education and Recreation from the University of Tennessee, and is a Licensed Paraprofessional. Internationally respected as a professional athlete and basketball player, in 1980 Reginald Johnson was the First Round Draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs.  He went on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the 1983 Champions Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers, as well as internationally. 

After retirement, he became an advocate, an educator, a speaker and a coach within his community.  His celebrity status would garner him many speaking invitations to schools, youth programs and partnerships with professional organizations throughout the southeast.  He is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the R Johnson Community Services, Incorporation (RJCS). 

In 1997 Reginald and Ronald Johnson were instrumental in starting up the County Line/Ellenwood Community Round-up and Parade in South DeKalb County, formerly known as The Second Chance Community Services, Inc., of which Rev. Oscar C. White Jr. was Founder, 1994.  He is a masterful teacher, humanitarian, entrepreneur and community leader.  Reginald teaches self-reliance and soaring self-esteem, while being committed to promoting solid performance in education.  He encourages participation in AAU Youth Basketball Leagues, Upward Youth Basketball Camps, Mentoring Programs and many other special activities, all of which demonstrate values of diligence in all of his endeavors; which embodies the foundation of the R Johnson Community Services, Inc.

KENT WADE

Board Member

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the application process to enroll in the program, and how long does the process take?
  • The first step is to download and complete our application. Once we receive your application, and determine the eligibility for our program, we will contact you to set up a tour of our center.
  • After the tour, you will be notified when a spot at the center or in transportation becomes available. Typically, this process can takes one month, depending on whether we have a spot available at the time.
What is your safety policy?
  • At the Smart Place, the safety and well being of everyone is our main priority.
  • Please feel free to review our complete safety policy which can be found in the policy section of our website.
  • The Smart Place adheres to multiple human service compliance requirements, which can also be found here on our website.
How do participants pay for the programming at The Smart Place?
  • Medicaid Waiver
  • Private Pay
What type of services are offered for children at The Smart Place?

The Smart Place offers programs throughout the summer:

How do I apply for a Medicaid Waiver?

Contact the Region 3 Office of DBHDD at 770-414-3052.

What are the hours of operation?
  • Our doors open at 8:30AM.
  • General activities take place between 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
  • Participants can stay as late as 3:30PM and there is a $1.00 per minute surcharge thereafter.
How are participants transported to and from The Smart Place?

There are several transportation options:

  • SPACS transportation
  • Private Transportation
  • MARTA (see the MARTA website for an application)- Go To Website
Do participants choose their daily activities?

At the Smart Place we participate in activities that follow a person-centered-choice philosophy. Where everyone has a voice and a choice in what they want to engage in daily.

Do you provide any meals or snacks?

The Smart Place offers breakfast, lunch, and a snack to all our participants, at no cost to you or your family. We do recommend bringing a bag lunch for participants with specific dietary and/or medical restrictions.

What kind of support services does the day program provide?

The Smart Place provides a curriculum based, activity-filled day, we also provide life skill assistance for our more fragile individuals, and we also have a certified LPN on-site to administer medications and provide medical assistance.

Have another question?

For more information, please contact us at info@thesmartplace.org.  We respond within 48 business hours.

ADDRESS
1916 Glenfair Rd.
Decatur, GA 30035

PHONE
770.469.4418

EMAIL
info@thesmartplace.org

FAX
770.469.4438