Linda Trost: Blooming Where She is Planted

By Leslie Moore

Linda Trost: Blooming Where She is Planted

If not for the large cheerful sign on Hwy 90 in Little River, I may have missed Current Transitions, a learning center for adults with developmental delays. But, once I went inside and met Linda Trost, founder and director of Current Transitions, I learned what a huge impact this small learning center has on the lives of its students.

Current Transitions serves approximately 25 students, ages, 21-59, and teaches a variety of subjects focusing on life skills, including money management, communication and daily living skills, nutrition and cooking and more, including a fantastic art therapy program that has turned into a business for the students and a fundraiser for the non-profit learning center. Everyone at this cheerful, happy place is a volunteer, donating their time and talents to help. “This is truly work from the heart,” Linda told me.

“I’m not a local, but I think I am now!” Linda began when I asked about her life. “My husband and I grew up on the opposite coast, Oceanside, California. We went through school together and were married after high school. We’re going on our 35th year of marriage,” she added with a smile. “Family brought us to the area. Before Dion retired, his brother, Mike, and his wife, Susie, who were realtors at the time, found us a summer home that turned into a bigger, permanent home. We are so happy and love our beach home!”

While Linda’s three children were growing up, her husband, Dion, worked in Angola, Africa, for a major oil company. He rotated 28 days on and 28 off. It was tough on the young family, but Linda and Dion joke that so much time apart may be the reason they have stayed happily married. Linda was always active in her children’s schools, volunteering her time to manage and develop recreational programs, like summer camps and sports programs. During an interview for a job with a recreation department, the director asked her if she would be willing to work with special needs students. After thinking it over, Linda agreed to try. “I was given an opportunity to try something new, out of my scope of experience, and found I loved it. I never looked back. My students in Texas still call me –they never leave you.”

Linda Trost: Blooming Where She is Planted

The program Linda managed in Texas used a specialized, very expensive curriculum for special needs students, and Linda bought this same program for Current Transitions. “When I moved to North Myrtle Beach, I thought I would lie on the beach every day and read all the books that had been piling up. It was fun for a short time, but I missed working, and I especially missed my students.” Linda first worked with a group in North Myrtle Beach called ARC, but one day she drove by a building in Little River, and the idea for Current Transitions was born. “I called my husband and told him I was renting this building. He thought I was nuts, but soon we applied for our 501 (c) (3) and were on our way!”

Dion did all the work converting the building into a learning center, along with the entire family, including Linda’s mom, who is in her 80s. When the work was nearly complete, Linda got busy rallying community support. “Everyone I talked to about Current Transitions was enthusiastic in their support, and we received a grant from the Disabilities Council in Columbia.” The non-profit’s main fundraiser is an annual golf tournament, held on June 11th this year, and Dion’s buddies from overseas come from around the world to play golf and support the learning center. “People across the globe have found our little program and support us. It gives me goosebumps to think that so many people are supporting my idea, my dream,” Linda told me with tears in her eyes.

“We decided early on not to charge the students and not to turn anyone away,” Linda began, “but we have to have enough volunteers to cover everyone. It’s been five years since we opened, and we have a wonderful, reliable group of volunteers that show up and give their time each week. They are the core of our program.” Students must be diagnosed with a disability, but Linda will accept all levels of ability, even though this sometimes presents a challenge to meet everyone’s needs. “Some of our students can’t read at all, and some are reading big novels. We have a wide range of functioning abilities – you notice I said abilities, not disabilities. We focus on what the students can do, not what they can’t.”

Linda Trost: Blooming Where She is Planted

Linda told us one of her favorite success stories. “My oldest student, Alex, is 59. He was working for Goodwill and is a big joker. He carried a joke a little too far at work without realizing it and lost his job, got behind on his bills and his car was falling apart. Our landlord here gave him a job at his storage business, and he is doing so well now. Alex lives with his aunt, but is very independent.” With the help of his classes at Current Transitions, Alex has also learned better communication skills to use on the job.

Current Transitions operates three days a week, three hours a day, and on Thursdays there is an extended art program. Kathy Mcintire, volunteer art therapy teacher, moved to the area from Ohio, and was, by chance, put in touch with Linda when she was looking for services for her daughter. Kathy, an artist who owned a studio in Ohio, has worked extensively with disabled individuals, and believes everyone can do art. Her dedication to the art program at Current Transitions has had incredible results.

Kathy started out teaching art basics, all in line with Linda’s curriculum, and when the students liked a project, she would expand upon it. A project making colorful fish was posted on Facebook and the comments exploded. People were clamoring to buy the cute and colorful fish and fused glass pieces. Today, the North Myrtle Beach Museum and Innovations at Barefoot Landing sell the artwork. The day Sasee visited, two students were working on the project, making tags and quality checking finished pieces. After paying for materials, the money raised from sales is divided between the students and the learning center.

In addition to the wonderful art therapy program, there is a science program run by a retired chemist, “Stan the Science Man.” Recently, Stan taught all the students how to operate a fire extinguisher. He started a small fire and had each one actually put it out, using a standard fire extinguisher. “Stan also teaches the students how to garden, and we have a big salsa party in the late summer,” Linda told me with pride. Other volunteers include a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.

Linda explained that there are a wide variety of classes, including reading, science, math, language skills and games designed to teach. The learning center has a small bus, but is still looking for a volunteer driver. For now, Linda drives the bus when the students go on field trips. “We take the students into the community to use the skills they learn in the classroom. All of these programs come from the award-winning James Stanfield program I purchased to start the learning center.”

I asked Linda how she takes care of herself. “I love to play tennis and play three to four times a week at Grande Dunes –I belong to three leagues. One of my leagues is going to the state championships!” Linda and Dion also love to travel and take long weekend jaunts whenever possible. Their three children are grown – two sons live in the area, and their daughter, son-in-law and grandson, Charlie, live in California. A new grandchild is expected toward the end of the year.

“Current Transitions is a dream for me. I’ve had so much experience in the field, and I wasn’t ready to retire. It has planted my feet in the sand, so to speak. I drive to the center each day looking forward to seeing those smiling faces. I am making a difference in my community, and that’s a good thing!”

Current Transitions is located at 414 Hwy 90 E in Little River. To learn more or volunteer, call Linda at 661-301-1392. You may also visit their Facebook page to see more photos of the students’ beautiful artwork. The organization is currently in need of a good, used van – let them know if you have one to donate. All donations are tax deductible!

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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2 Responses to “Linda Trost: Blooming Where She is Planted”

  1. I was helping Linda Trost a lot when I was in her class. She didn’t know I learned to much about the weather from the good or bad . Linda didn’t know I know when the Pollen start up and she didn’t know I know the heat index was going over in 2015. I contack Linda and a few of my friends I miss in South Carolina
    from Gina

  2. kathy McIntire says:

    Such a wonderful article.
    This is a very under-served demographic in our communities and it is with the deepest of gratitude that I thank Linda & Dion Trost for their commitment to the adults on our community with special needs. This program is one of the best I have ever worked with and it is amazing that it is all done thru donation , fundraising and grants. No paid employees- all volunteers.
    Kudos Linda… Job well done :)

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