Meet Solé Weber, Intake and FASD Clinic Coordinator at
Hope RISING Clinic

Emotions are harder to read when interviewing on a video call, but even on the screen, Sole’s face lights up with passion when she talks about her work at Hope RISING Clinic. Solé started at Wonderland in 2016 as an administrative assistant, evolved into an office administrator, then actively pursued her role as intake and FASD clinic coordinator when Hope RISING Clinic opened one year ago.

Solé didn’t know what exactly prompted her to apply for the position, but deep inside, she felt a strong calling to be part of a clinic that just started brand-new services in the community. Now, after a year of daily interactions with families coming through the door for evaluations and therapies, she understands. As a child, she experienced the devastating impact of drug and alcohol abuse in her family. Working with families affected by prenatal substance exposure empowers Solé to embrace her past trauma and help others facing similar challenges.

The oldest of four siblings, Solé grew up in the Greater Seattle area in a family with diverse cultural backgrounds and faiths. The siblings share a close bond, something their father instilled in them at a happy point of her childhood. But everything changed dramatically as he descended into drug use and eventually disappeared from her life. Solé pushed through rocky adolescent years thanks to her mother who stayed strong and fought hard to support the children. At 17, she met her future husband, Tyler, through a church youth group. They were friends at first, then became best friends, and now have been together for almost 12 years.

Solé at her wedding (third from left), with her husband, mother, and siblings

Solé is the first point of contact for families at Hope RISING Clinic. As the frontline coordinator for referrals, she reaches out to each family to hear their concerns, explain the services the clinic offers, and sets up an initial meeting. She goes through an extensive process of collecting medical records and other data needed for an evaluation. And she is there for the family when they first arrive at the clinic for a diagnosis.

During the FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) clinic, trained clinicians evaluate a child for signs of prenatal alcohol exposure. For Solé, meeting the children and families she often has communicated with for months over the phone, and seeing their hopefulness to finally have answers is her favorite part of the job. At the end of the day, the family will leave the clinic with a diagnosis, a plan for therapy, and a brighter outlook for the future.

The Seattle area has limited capacity for FASD evaluations with only two diagnostic clinics, Hope RISING Clinic being one. The wait list for FASD evaluations at the clinic continues to grow with children often being scheduled for appointments several months out. While FASD evaluations are an integral part, Hope RISING Clinic provides so much more. Although children can get services such as counseling, occupational, or speech therapy at many other more convenient locations, no other clinic has a team of trained providers in one place who understand the impact of prenatal substance exposure on the developing brain. Community resources and support for these families of children with prenatal exposure are so limited that Solé sees families reaching out for help from as far as Eastern Washington and even other states.

Recently, Solé has taken on an additional role providing longer term direct services to families. She enjoys getting to know and supporting families on a deeper level by providing resources and advocacy. Sometimes she wonders how she ended in a job that is such a perfect fit for her. Years ago, she went to school hoping to become a nurse. She wanted to work in healthcare, but after realizing how hands-on nursing is, she changed her mind. Now, she gets to work with families directly, helping them find answers, and seeing their lives changed for the better.

Solé as a baby (left) and at Hope RISING Clinic’s ribbon-cutting ceremony last year (right).

On the first anniversary of Hope RISING Clinic, Solé has many hopes for its future. She hopes that it can expand to serve more families and without the wait list. Ultimately, she hopes that one day there will be no need for the clinic. One day, with enough prevention and education about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy, no children will be impacted, and no families will be searching for help. Until then, Solé will continue welcoming families to the clinic and staying by their side.