Tuesday, May 7, 2013

inspirational for conference

Enjoy the story of how a community saved a family in crisis that I wrote to give at this year's Genesee Valley PTA Spring Conference. Yes, it is true.

I am going to tell you the story of a very lucky woman.

 Her fifth child was born with a highly unusual genetic disorder. He could not suck. He had no soft spot because his skull bones had fused before he was born. The doctors said that he would not walk, talk or survive beyond the age of two and should be put into an institution. But she was a very lucky woman. The community rallied to provide support. Her mother-in-law’s work colleagues built a special chair to feed him in, a scooter to teach him to crawl, and later, a table to help strengthen his legs so that he would learn to stand and later walk. Before special education was required, her community had a free school for children with significant disabilities. Yes, she was a very lucky woman. Her son learned to walk unsteadily, feed himself, and communicate with sounds and modified sign language.

Three children after the birth of her son with disabilities, her husband was in a major train accident. He suffered a traumatic brain injury. But she was a very lucky woman. The community rallied again. They took care of the children, three of whom were in cloth diapers, brought meals, helped with transportation and therapy and made sure things around the house got done.  If she was at the hospital, people were home to welcome the children as they got off the bus.  She was a very lucky woman.

Thereafter, her husband only periodically held down a job so money was tight. The school and community stepped up. Food stamps, unemployment and disability payments, and community discounted health insurance provided support. Fieldtrips, roller skating parties, dues for scouts and fees for summer rec programs were all funded so the kids could share experiences with their friends. Christmas and Easter brought a bonanza a food and gift baskets for the family when things were tight. Yes, she was a very lucky woman.

We can all make families in crisis very lucky. Providing support for such people makes them very lucky and helps keep their children from falling through the cracks. As PTA members we fight for the social services, school supports and laws that help protect these vulnerable families. We all play an important role. When we work together we can achieve great things for children everywhere and all our community can be very lucky.

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