Features

Keeping parents sane

"Keeping parents sane" Continued...

Issue: "Save the unions," Oct. 24, 2009

Somehow, she keeps her sense of humor-joking that Charlie's sprung a leak when his nose bleeds and cracking to people, "You know, if you have any trouble, I have handy skills! I can put an IV in ya!" She nurtures Charlie's ambitions with a dose of the humor that keeps her-and the moms she helps-sane: "Charlie's going to be a Lego designer when he grows up." She tells Charlie about his future company, "Just hope it has good insurance."

Others also look for humor amid hardship. At a vacation Bible school camp for special needs families, a group of scrapbooking moms broke into empathetic amusement when one woman said she sat down at her computer to look for pictures and found a whole file of unusual snapshots: vomit and poo.

Jen Gienke-mom to two autistic sons, foster mom to a baby with a feeding tube and a toddler with reactive attachment disorder-said, "We all started laughing and saying, 'Yup, I have that file too!'" Moms with "normal kids" don't take pictures of "what's in the toilet or what your child just barfed out on the floor," said Gienke, but special needs moms know that's how to show a child's ailments to a doctor.

Gienke likes that bond of strange, shared experience: "It's not an oddity to have a 10-year-old who knows exactly what you're talking about when you tell him, 'Honey, go upstairs and run and get me a split IV sponge!'" The emotional, spiritual, and sometimes financial relief that Snappin' offers to parents of special needs kids is priceless: Gienke said, "No one's going to stare at us, no one's going to freak out"-and no one finds it strange that half of her kitchen pantry is filled with supplements and medical supplies.

"It's going the long journey with God," said Dittrich. "And sometimes you're hanging on by a thread and He's got you. And it's hard, hard stuff. You watch your child suffer and you'd give anything for it to be you instead of your child." And at the point where parents are ready to snap, compassion arrives.
For more information on this year's Hope Award for Effective Compassion and to read profiles of other nominated organizations from this year and previous years, click here.

Snappin'

• Delivered $1,400 in gift cards and 255 gift baskets in the past 10 months

• October 4 Spa Day: Haircuts and spa services for more than 100 moms and special needs kids

• More than 60 volunteers provide spa services, house cleaning, and refreshments

2009 revenue: $9,301*

2009 expenses: $11,714*

*Revenue and expense figures are through Sept. '09

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