It is with great sadness that I report that Bonny Hulsy, one of the founders of Valley Achievement Center (VAC), passed away following a brave battle against brain cancer. Following the diagnosis of her daughter with autism, and finding the available services for children with autism in Bakersfield and Kern County inadequate, Bonny joined together with Jolene Billinger, who also had a young daughter with autism, to create a program that would meet the educational, social and adaptive skills needs of their children and other children in the community similarly diagnosed with autism. As a result of the tireless efforts of Bonny and Jolene, along with the support of other parents and professionals, VAC opened in 1998. Bonny continued to support VAC’s growth over the years as a valued member of VAC’s Board of Directors. Bonny’s vision and efforts helped VAC grow to more than four sites in Bakersfield, with close to 300 dedicated employees, to serve the educational, social and vocational needs of children and adults diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities. While helping VAC grow and expand over the past 20 years to meet the needs of children and adults diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities in Kern County, Bonny also worked for many years as an RN with Kern Regional Center providing further support to individuals with special needs and their families.
As those of us lucky enough to know and work with Bonny can attest, Bonny was a kind, positive and generous person. Bonny was someone you looked forward to seeing and felt better after being in her presence. All of us who knew Bonny are grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked with her and spent time with her and will miss her.
Bonny’s Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, November 17, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, located at 900 H. Street, in Bakersfield. A reception for family and friends will immediately follow. Bonny’s family has requested that those wishing to honor Bonny and her family donate to Valley Achievement Center.
Further details regarding Bonny’s life and burial can be found at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bakersfield/obituary.aspx?pid=187152048.
Valley Achievement Center