The Sound Start Babies Foundation

The Sound Start Babies Foundation's (formerly The Lake Drive Foundation) mission is to help families of hearing impaired babies during the most critical years of brain development—birth to age 3—regardless of their financial status.

The Sound Start Babies Foundation, comprised of a volunteer board of trustees including business and community leaders, educators and pediatric hearing loss professionals, raises money exclusively for the Sound Start Babies Program, an early intervention program for babies with hearing loss.

The Sound Start Babies Foundation has the support of a small and developing advisory board. It’s only paid staff is for fund development; all other functions are completed by volunteers. 88% of funds raised go directly to the program for the babies.

The Board of Trustees is committed to fundraising to provide the quality of care recommended by the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, a national coalition of medical and educational professionals, recognizing that carefully planned care during the critical first three years of life can make differences unattainable at later ages.

The Sound Start Babies Foundation’s fundraising is essential to Sound Start Babies as public funding covers only about 1/3 the cost. The Foundation’s goal is for all families to have access to this quality of care, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Foundation is committed to maintaining a financial reserve to ensure that any child who begins the program as an infant will be covered until they reach their third birthday, when the NJ Department of Education funding becomes available to them.

The Sound Start Babies Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

The Foundation’s History

A program for children with hearing loss has been part of the Mountain Lakes Public School system since the 1970‘s, providing classes for children with hearing loss from preschool through high school who live all across northern NJ and represent the cultural and socioeconomic diversity of the region.

Since these children became an integral part of the school district, community members recognized the challenges and contributions of this diverse group. In order to ensure that they received the care they needed beyond public education, especially for the youngest of the group, community volunteers, parents of children with hearing loss, and others formed the Lake Drive Foundation in 1997.

The need for the Foundation’s fundraising was heightened when newborn hearing screenings were mandated in 2002 and an increasing number of babies with hearing loss were identified. Research on early brain development made this care urgent, as it showed the first few years of life are critical for developing language and communication.

The Board has maintained a loyal group of trustees and has continuously welcomed new board members who share the passion of the mission, ensuring the longevity of the Foundation as it continues its work on behalf of babies with hearing loss.

The Board of Trustees

Jessica Griffin, President

C. John DeSimone III, Esq., Vice President

Elisabeth Olivo, Secretary

Cheryl Darpino

Stephanie Deyo

Jack Gentul

Jaclyn Greenberg

Richard Kalfayan

Laura S. McKirdy, Ph.D.

Heather Schey

Amy Woltman, Esq.