History of DHHSC
Pre-1984 to Present
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Tulare County Advocacy and Communication Center (TCACC)
Established in Visalia, CA in 1983 in response to the lack of services being provided to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the area.
Harry Schaffner was named as first Executive Director of TCACC in November 1983.
Establishment of Board of Directors & Interpreting Services
The Board of Directors and Interpreting Services were established soon afterwards.
TCACC to VACC
One month later, TCACC was renamed to Valley Advocacy and Communication Center (VACC) to avoid confusion of the agency’s affliation with Tulare County’s government services/programs.
Official Opening Day
VACC officially opened its doors on November 1, 1984, with two full-time staff providing services funded by the Calfiornia Department of Social Services.
2nd Executive Director & Addition of Fresno's VACC Office
Paul Singleton became VACC’s second Executive Director in 1986.
Fresno Outreach Office was established soon afterwards.
Fresno Outreach office's relocations & Third Executive Director
Early 1987, Nancy Carroll became VACC’s third Executive Director, and she served for 12 years.
During her tenure, VACC moved to Clovis and then back to Fresno on Sixth Street.
Visalia Outreach Office Closed
In July of that same year, VACC’s Visalia Outreach office closed with the Fresno Outreach office becoming the Headquarters.
First Valley Deaf Festival
VACC hosted the first Valley Deaf Festival in 1988, a small local festival for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which still runs annually to this day.
VACC established Central Coast Outreach Office in 1990, with support of local funders, including Harden Foundation and Community Foundation of Monterey County.
VACC grew to 13 positions to serve the D/HH Community and their families, friends, and community service providers of Central California in February 1999.
VACC to DHHSC
In 1999, VACC was renamed to Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service Center (DHHSC) after a decision by the Board of Directors in order to reflect and better serve Central California.
Augmentation from State of California
Also in 1999, VACC obtained more funding to keep the Central Coast Outreach office open and running.
4th Executive Director
Larry Laskowski became DHHSC’s 4th Executive Director in mid 1999.
Establishment of Merced Outreach Office
During Larry Laskowski’s tenure, Merced Outreach Office was established to serve the community in Merced, Madera, & Mariposa Counties.
Big Shoes To Fill
By the end of 2000, Rosemary became the 5th Executive Director.
During her time, South Valley Outreach office in Visalia, CA was reopened (previously closed in 1987), serving the community of Kings and Tulare Counties.
Expanding the Organization
DHHSC grew to four offices during Rosemary W. Diaz’s tenure with an annual budget of $1.5 million and 28 staff positions.
Martha's Vineyard In Central Valley
In the year 2003, DHHSC, led by Rosemary Diaz, hosted the first ever Martha’s Vineyard In Central Valley, reflecting on the history of Martha’s Vineyard where Deaf and hearing people in the past interacted and worked together. This is now an annual event.
Establishment of the Headquarters
DHHSC officially opened its headquarters on November 1, 2003 in Fresno and continues operating three outreach offices.
20th Anniversary of VACC/DHHSC
DHHSC celebrated its 20th Anniversary (1984-2004) by hosting a gala for staff, Board of Directors, community members, and the public.
6th Executive Director
Danielle Thompson was named as 6th Executive Director.
DHHSC faced a 10% budget cut in 2007, resulting in the closure of three staff positions. As a result, the remaining staff assumed more responsibilities to maintain services and events to the D/HH Community.
Current Executive Director
Michelle L. Bronson currently serves as DHHSC’s 7th Executive Director, starting in 2009.
Expanding Today's Services
Under Michelle L. Bronson’s direction, DHHSC established new services and programs, including Reaching Out and Communicating with our Kids (ROCK), Youth Employment Services (YES!), and Employment Development Department (EDD).
30th Anniversary GALA
In 2014, DHHSC celebrated with a 30th Anniversary Gala. Past and current staff and Board of Directors, along with their guests, came to celebrate this special milestone.
Retirement of Kathy Doerksen (Yoshida)
After more than 25 years of working with DHHSC, Kathy was the first person to officially retire in late 2015.
Growing Once Again
In 2018, Deaf Access Program finally received a much-needed augmentation for the first time in 19 years. It allowed DHHSC to create new positions, including trilingual staff and the first-ever Public Relations/Community Outreach Specialist.
Partnering With Organizations
In June 2018, DHHSC partnered with NTID/RIT (National Technology Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology), Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), & Fresno State University (FSU) in hosting the first-ever STEM camp in California for Deaf & Hard of Hearing high school students.
Creation of LGBTQIA+ Client Services Specialist
In December 2019, LGBTQIA+ Client Services Specialist was created, a first kind in DHHSC history, serving Deaf/Hard of Hearing LGBTQIA+ Community.
Looking to the Future
During our 35 years of operation, we have served an average of 25,000 people per year.