Dear Saint John Canadian Lebanon Association,
When you arrived at our centre with a check for $5,000 I was so overwhelmed it was difficult for me to keep my composure. I'm not sure that you will ever know the full magnitude of this gesture. You have literally changed a child's life forever.
Let me paint the hard reality that is the story of many children we already provide intervention for; right now as I write this there is a school aged child out there, perhaps with autism, who's family cannot afford intervention. This child's time at school has been decreased because of some challenges behaviourally. He/she struggles to make friends at school because social skills do not come naturally. Unfortunately as a result of this the child is probably being teased and even provoked to meltdowns by other kids. This child at the age of 6 begins to question his/her self worth and asks his mom & dad "am I good?". I can't imagine the stress this family feels for their child. As a mother I know the feeling of wanting to protect your children from all harm. Watching your child struggle socially in different environments would be so difficult. Every parent wants their children to have meaningful and lasting relationships. Not knowing the intervention strategies that your child needs or where to find help would leave you feeling helpless. The anxiety that surrounds families in these scenarios can be unbearable. This is a true reality and this is who you are helping.
If it wasn't for your donation what would this child's life trajectory be if they continued down this road? Where would we find them in several years? What would their confidence look like when they are 13yrs old? What types of relationships will they develop with their peers, teachers and community members? How would the family be coping? This reality is why I couldn't walk away from Stepping Stones.
Stepping Stones was previously funded by the government for pre-school children with autism. When the funding stopped I was advised to retire and walk away from it all. But after meeting with many parents like Kim Hunt, who's story much resembles the one I just depicted, I decided to stay. Intervention for children with autism needed to continue past the age of 5, so we decided to fill the void. I knew it wasn't going to be easy and that financially we would need help. Thats why when Suzanne Buckley walked into my office the other day I had to hold back tears of joy.
Another child's life will be forever changed and you made this possible. What an incredible achievement, what an incredible legacy your organization has. I know we were not the only ones you gave too either. So I want to applaud your generosity and thank you on behalf of all our staff and the families you have forever changed.
- Sharon Gainforth
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