May 19th brought the celebration of spring and an early Easter Egg Hunt for children with special needs and their families. AiN hosting their 3rd annual egg hunt was Saturday, where AiN volunteers and Pleasant Hill Chamber Members packed 1,200 plastic eggs for 31 kids to find. Each child received an AiN Easter Basket (this year an AiN bag) which included bubbles, slinkies, sensory toys, sunglasses and so much more.
Because we had the budget AiN reached out to two other organizations that serve children with special needs. One of the organizations used the egg hunt as an Applied Behavior Analysis social group outing. While the other organization used it as a family day out; offering networking between parents while children joined in the egg hunt.
#AiN #AllinNeed #AiNEggHunt #SomeBunnyLovesYou
All in Need, Family Support (AiN) serves families with special needs children, ages 18 and under, who live in the East Bay area. AiN offers support in a nurturing and learning environment that promotes social interaction and gross and fine motor activities, all in a sensory based atmosphere.
The “Revive” respite care program gives parents the chance to take care of themselves, so they can take better care of their children.
Their “Special Events” are held several times throughout the year for the entire family to enjoy. These are age appropriate activities, offered in a mainstream setting, allowing for kids to participate in events in a safe and positive atmosphere. Whether enjoying decorating Cookies with Santa, exploring for eggs and prizes at the annual Easter Egg Hunt, or dressing up in the costumes and participating in safe and fun trick or treating at Trunk-or-Treat, these events are a unique and fun way for kids and families to get engaged. Because it is so important for families to share their stories and support each other, these events not only encourage friendships among AiN Children, but offer an opportunity for parents to network with other AiN families.
AiN was award their first grant from SMPS Family Fund for $3,000 last month. The money is to be used for their special events program. They were shocked to also find out they were rewarded a $250 grant from the Jim and Sharon Walker Family Fund that they were unaware of. Autumn Green, Executive Director and Founder, says she cannot express her gratitude enough for these two grants.
If you would like more information on AiN programs or how you can support AiN visit their webpage at www.allinneed.org.
Santa had contacted AiN’s Executive Director, Autumn Green explaining that he couldn’t make it to Breakfast with Santa this year. Autumn was disappointed she had already planned on making Green and Ham for the Dr. Seuss Christmas theme. She understood the schedule conflict, so she agreed to have Santa join the kids on Saturday, December 12, 2015 for Cookies with Santa.
What a hit! 30 plus kids registered one of the two 45 minute sessions. Kids rotated through four stations: Cookie station, art station, sensory station and Santa station. While they waited to see Santa they were able to look at books.
With donations from Maggie Wolf each child received a stocking stuff full of goodies, and of course Santa had presents for each child. (2 books) which was possible by the sponsors of this event. Santa, Mrs Claus and Karen De Jager at Spectrum Photography worked extremely hard to make sure every child had a positive interaction with Santas Claus. Santa was even willing to pop out from behind a chair so that the family had one photo with Santa and their daughter.
Thank you to all our sponsors: Matt Rinn at State Farm, Debbie Smith at AHA Movement, Margret Miner at VinoCruising, Joe Stokely at Stokely Properties, and Michael Bronies at J. Rockcliff Realtors. We cannot forget all the other volunteers that put hours into preparing for this event. This event wouldn’t have been successful without you. A special thank you to Jen Tipton, who made dozens and dozens of cookies for this event.
Working with families at All In Need, Family Support (AiN) has taught me that parents and caregivers are strong. Each child that comes into AiN worms their way into all the volunteers’ hearts, and as volunteers we hear the parents’ stories of their child’s success and struggles.
As the Executive Director of AiN, I often times cry after hanging up with a parent hearing how their child is taking a turn for the worse or their child’s behavior is out of control. I hear desperation in the parent’s voice as they are struggling to support their child’s needs. Having a child on the spectrum, often times, I can understand their feelings and can tell parents it will get better. But, sometimes I cannot relate to what the parents are saying. All I can do is listen and try to hold it together while parents give me the latest updates on their children. Then I hang up and cry. I cannot even imagine your child having additional medical issues on top of the daily fight of Autism. I cannot imagine the fight of a wheelchair, because your child is too tired to stay on her feet. I cannot imagine hearing the words “your child will not make it to adulthood”. So, this parent tries to relate to what parents must be feeling, but instead I crawl under the covers and cry for the families who are hurting. Yet, I see these parents go on and advocate for their children. Knowing they are exhausted, but amazingly strong. Yet, as a spectator in their lives, I get to learn what love is and what dedication and strength is. It is humbling that these families allow us at AiN to be part of such an intimate detail in their lives.
At AiN, we know we only can help carry their burdens, and we do that through offering respite care to the families. Their child has an opportunity to socialize with others and play games. We also offer three special events a year. This gives them the opportunity to participate in mainstream events and parents to network with one another.
Lastly, we offer the Angel Fund. We choose one family who has attend at least one Revive event in the last year. The goal of this fund is to help the family who is in need of additional support due to unforeseen circumstance. We are proud that we were able to provide $250 to the Cook Family to help cover medical expense for their son who suffered a stroke early in 2015.
Photos taken by Karen De Jager: Spectrum Photography
Jacob Green has been involved with All in Need since the very beginning. With AiN, he hopes to help make the lives of families who have children with special needs a bit easier. With his experience so far, he has really seen how what AiN is doing is really making a difference in the lives of these children and their families.
His favorite thing about AiN is watching the kids dance and participate during music videos and game time. Volunteering with special needs children has changed his perspective on working with special needs children dramatically.
In his free time, he likes to go mountain biking.
Sydney Polich has been a member of All in Need for three months now as a group leader for the younger kids. She joined AiN with the hope of helping an organization whose mission she believed in as well as to improve her leadership skills.
Her favorite thing about AiN is that it is designed to help families as a whole as opposed to individual children. AiN has something to offer every family who has a child with special needs, whether it be support, a relaxation break, or just a place to hang out.
“AiN has embedded in me the truth that each child, with or without special needs, has a unique set of talents and an even more distinct personality”, Polich said. “A disability is not a label, but only a part of what makes an individual that individual.”
Her favorite part of the events is the Wii Dance portion of the evening where all the children have fun and interact with each other.
For fun, she loves to run and is a member of her school’s cross-country and track team. She also enjoys other sports and outdoor activities.
Why are you thankful for All in Need?
“I am thankful for All in Need because of the break I get during the couple of hours and the time I get to spend with my husband.” – Rachel Shirley
Did you have plans tonight?
“Me and my husband went out to dinner and went on a nice walk.” – Rachel Shirley
How long have you been a part of All in Need?
“This is my second month being a part of All in Need and I love everything about the program.” – Rachel Shirley
Interviewed and written by: Fatima Ali
Photo by Jacob Green
Mother’s Day 2015, Yaakov, my son with Aspergers, got me a Mother’s Day card that read on the front a good mom let you lick the mixer. When you open it up it says a great mom turns it off first. After reading the card I said, “I guess I’m a great mom after all!”
He replies, “except for the one time when you didn’t turn it off. That’s the reason I was in speech for years.”
I couldn’t help but laugh and reflect on the fact that at one point in his life he can’t even make a joke. Now he makes me laugh and smile everyday. Who said kids with autism do not have a sense of humor! I hope all you mommies had a wonderful Mother’s Day!