F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was founded in August 2009 by Behavior Consultant, Maranda Porter. Having a nephew diagnosed with Autism and facing the harsh reality that there were no summer camp programs or activities in the Savannah area that specialized in this disability, Mrs. Porter was determined to take action and become an advocate for her nephew and many other children like him.
With support from family, friends, community organizations, and local funding sources, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. officially became a reality. Liberty City Church of Christ graciously made available their facility for summer camp use. On May 23, 2011, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Summer Camp opened its doors for children in the Savannah and surrounding area to embark on a journey of learning, exploration, and friendship.
There are many people on our team (including teachers, therapists, partners, etc) that help to ensure that your children receive the best care and attention. Given that we cannot introduce everyone, we want you to know a few key individuals on our team that whose determination and preserverance helps to produce the necessary results to achieve success in your child's therapy.
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Maranda L. Porter received a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from Georgia Southern University in May 2004 and obtained her Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix in June 2009. Mrs. Porter began working in the field of applied behavior analysis in 2005 as a Behavior Therapist under the direct supervision of a BCABA (Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst). She has worked in various environments implementing ABA based treatment programs for children ages 3-18 with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) and is currently employed as lead therapist with the Savannah location of the Chicago Autism and Behavior Specialists (CABS). In March 2016, Maranda obtained her BCABA certification and earned her BCBA certification in November 2021.
Mrs. Porter has gained valuable experience by working closely with behavior consultants/analysts, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. In addition, she had an opportunity to conduct a literature review on behavioral intervention programs and helped to revamp the agency’s training manual for behavior therapists.
In August 2010, Mrs. Porter started a program which provides ABA Therapy Services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders called F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (Finding Resources In Educational Needs and Developmental Services). She designs and supervises programs for young children with ASD and trains a variety of individuals on applied behavior analysis methodologies including: various school systems within the state of Georgia, child care facilities, and parents. Treatment is delivered in a variety of settings, including in-home and segregated/inclusive classrooms which are based upon each child’s specific needs.
With the introduction of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. 1st Annual Social Skills Summer Camp in 2011, Mrs. Porter hopes to expand F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in the near future by opening an after school program and other therapeutic venues which offer assistance to children with Autism.
M.S. Psychology/M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education
LaToya Browne received a Bachelor's in Child and Family Development from Georgia Southern University in 2003. She has been employed with the Screven County Elementary School as an ABA Therapist since 2005. In addition, Ms. Browne obtained two Master's degrees from University of Phoenix; a Master’s in Psychology in 2009 and a Master’s in Early Childhood Development in 2011. Currently, Ms. Brown is pursuing her third Master’s Degree in Special Education with Special Education Certification. Ms. Browne has been the Camp Director for the Savannah location since 2011 and has proven to be a valuable asset to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. based upon her work ethic and expertise in the area of ABA Therapy.
Office Administrator, RBT
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Mia Givens received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work from Georgia Southern University in August 1996 and has worked as a social worker at both Johnson County (Wrightsville, Georgia) and Columbia County (Appling, Georgia) Department of Family and Children Services. In August of 2008, Mrs. Givens and her family moved from Georgia and relocated to Frederick, MD in which she became a full-time mom to her two daughters. Mrs. Givens accepted the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Office Administrator position in August 2010 in which she operates from her home office in Maryland. She travels to Georgia each summer to assist Mrs. Porter and to conduct various administrative duties. In addition to these duties, Mrs. Givens provides consultancy services which include summer camp curriculum development for all camp sites. In October 2021, she obtained her Registered Behavior Technician certification and provides therapy services to children with Autism.
B.S. Child and Development
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Andrea is a 2019 graduate of Georgia Southern University who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Development. She is currently attending Ball State University pursuing a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis while simultaneously providing RBT therapy services to children in a school setting. Fueled by hard work and dedicated to providing quality ABA services, Andrea is prepared to face any challenge to ensure her clients receive the services they so desperately deserve.
Andrea is currently pursuing her Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification.
In her spare time, she enjoys shopping and spending time with her family.
During her employment at the Matthew Reardon Center, Marlayna’s interest in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis was sparked! She thoroughly enjoyed working with children on the Autism Spectrum and wanted to gain additional knowledge on how she too can make a difference. This drive led her to obtain her Registered Behavior Technician certification in July 2021 which accompanies her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2016.
To unwind, Marlayna watches Disney and superhero movies and paints.
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Brittany was first introduced to the world of Applied Behavior Analysis during her many years as a preschool teacher. She quickly fell in love with the profession and made a life changing decision to make it a career.
With a Registered Behavior Technician certification in hand, the journey of reaching her ultimate goal of becoming a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysis began. Brittany currently attends Troy State University and is on track to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis.
In addition to providing top-notch behavior services, she is a mother to three beautiful children who keep her on her toes! Brittany enjoys caring for her 60 houseplants, camping, and making unforgettable memories with her family. Brittany voiced that she has “always loved children and being a mother. Being able to work with children within my profession has been such a blessing.” FRIENDS is fortunate to have her on our team!
Kaitlyn is currently a student at Ogeechee Technical College who is pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education. She anticipates transferring to Georgia Southern University to obtain a bachelor’s degree which will in turn, propel her to obtain her Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification. Kaitlyn possesses a Registered Behavior Technician certification and provides services to students at Carver Elementary School in Jefferson County, GA.
By working with students on the spectrum, Kaitlyn finds it quite rewarding to celebrate each and every accomplishment made by her students whether big or small. She has always found the field of behavior analysis interesting and looks forward to gaining more knowledge and skills which will further expand the horizons of the students she serves.
Kaitlyn’s hobbies are reading and embroidering.
B.S. in Honors Psychology
Starting at a young age, Taysia inherently demonstrated that everyone, no matter the disability, deserved to be included and their voices heard. This belief was further realized when she began volunteering at the FRIENDS Summer Camp Program for children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities at 10 years old. Being mentored and molded by her mother/FRIENDS Owner Maranda Porter, Taysia easily learned ways in which to effectively decrease adverse behaviors and promote participation in various activities…all with enthusiasm and a smile.
A 2022 honor graduate from Georgia Southern University, Taysia aims to continue in her mother’s footsteps by putting her bachelor’s degree in Psychology to work. She is currently completing her Registered Behavior Technician certification and will be attending graduate school in the fall with the goal of becoming a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
Being familiar with Applied Behavior Analysis for most of her life, she is excited to join the field and become one of many who strive to improve the lives of children with Autism.
For leisure, Taysia enjoys traveling and reading.
A Georgia native who relocated to Maryland as a child, Chloe gleamed with excitement when her and her family returned to Georgia each summer to visit family and most importantly to volunteer at FRIENDS Summer Camp. The skills learned during those summers spanning 8 years inspired and prepared Chloe to take the necessary steps to further her education in behavior analysis.
Chloe earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in French from Towson University in Towson, Maryland in 2021. She is presently taking graduate courses at George Mason University and anticipates earning a Master’s in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2023. To further her studies, Chloe is also preparing to earn her Registered Behavior Technician certification and aspires to obtain her Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification.
Early exposure to children with disabilities ignited a passion for Chloe to serve. Implementing interventions to reduce behaviors, encourage learning, and to nurture social skills of children on the spectrum, were the core elements Chloe learned during her years at summer camp. Equipped with these valuable skills, she hopes to improve the lives of the children and families she serves.
When not studying or working, Chloe enjoys painting in the park, singing, drawing, and roller skating.