- Co-founders Liz Jones and Rande Fregm set out to make a better life for families with atypically developing children. From that dream grew services provided by 40 therapists and 20 staffers at their York clinic.
Rande Fregm and Liz Jones didn’t intend to build a business. Their dream began with a playgroup for atypically developing preschool children.
Five years later, that playgroup spawned an array of services at a clinic known as Connections — Early Intervention and Supports.
From the York County-funded Early Intervention program to summer camps, occupational therapy to a sensory playgroup, and autism clinics to sibling workshops, Liz and Rande aim to create a safe and growth-focused space for families and children.
“We strive to make York County the best place for families of children with needs to come to,” Rande says. “You can always leave at the end of day knowing that somebody is better off today than they were yesterday.”
Active in the field
Unlike many business founders, Rande and Liz have remained active in the early intervention field as their business has grown. Liz is a pediatric occupational therapist who focuses on sensory regulation and feeding challenges, while Rande is a pediatric developmental specialist, serving children with speech, language, and developmental delays, behavioral challenges, and autism.
“I never had a desire to run my own business,” Liz says. “I feel like I caught an entrepreneurial bug, and once you make something, your brain just keeps wanting to make more. You realize you can do things that make an impact.”
Liz and Rande’s team has grown exponentially. What started as Rande and Liz operating a playgroup now includes them and a team of about 40 contractor therapists and 20 staff members in their York clinic.
A partner in uncertain times
When Liz and Rande received the contract for York County’s Early Intervention program, they ran into a snag. The program is dependent on state funding, and when the annual state budget isn’t passed on time, the business doesn’t receive funds and staffers don’t get a paycheck. The situation put Connections in a vulnerable position.
To ensure that team members get paid no matter what happens in Harrisburg, Rande and Liz turned to PeoplesBank. The PeoplesBank team was quick to respond and give Connections a business line of credit.
Recently, with the growth of their team, Liz and Rande realized that the original line of credit no longer would cover a missed payroll. They reached out to PeoplesBank again and quickly were offered a credit increase to cover their cash flow if a state budget isn’t approved on time.
Beyond a line of credit, PeoplesBank has been there to help with other business concerns. Each spring, Liz and Rande book two trains on the Stewartstown Railroad to provide a safe and inexpensive ride experience for Connections parents and children. In the past, they needed to create an invoice for each person who wanted to buy a ticket. Recently, PeoplesBank introduced a point-of-sale system, which allows the business to easily accept payments for special activities and regular programming.
“It’s another way that will be really, really helpful for day-to-day business operations,” says Liz.
Being a changemaker
Connections – Early Intervention and Supports is more than just an early intervention agency. It provides a safe space where families can get the support they need and children can thrive. Liz and Rande’s commitment to their clients’ welfare sets their work apart. With opportunities such as the annual train ride, they help people who often feel isolated to get out of their homes and into trusted environments where they feel supported.
The most rewarding part of the founders’ work has been seeing the children they interact with grow and succeed. Over the past five years, they have watched their original playgroup members grow from toddlers into 8- to 10-year-olds, and they have followed their stories. Every original member remains involved with Connections in some way.
The founders’ passion for helping children with atypical development, their families, and their communities, combined with the support of PeoplesBank, has enabled Liz and Rande to have a lasting impact on people’s lives.
“Through running this business, I’ve realized my ability to be a changemaker,” Rande says. “I go to work every day and love what I do.”
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