Altrusa Honors ‘Mighty Moms’ – Parents of Children With Disabilities
By John Lynch
But the group of 14 local mothers who gathered at a hotel on the last weekend in September were especially grateful – and deserving – of such treatment.
Meet the Mighty Moms, honored by Altrusa International of Lexington, a non-profit service group committed to improving their communities.
This year marked the sixth annual installment of the project, which has a goal of honoring and recognizing mothers of children with severe disabilities by providing a relaxing weekend away from home.
For many of these mothers, they have little or no time for themselves because their children require 24-hour care.
“We saw that there was a need in the community for this that wasn’t being met,” said Angie Smith, a Lexington business owner and Altrusa’s Chair of the Mighty Moms project.
“This is a project that is actually helping people. Seeing the way these moms, who are going through the same thing, connect with each other is very heartwarming.”
The following are stories of two of those Mighty Moms.
Sylvia suffers from “global delays.” She cannot speak, move on her own or eat (she has a feeding tube). Her vision is impaired, she suffers from constant seizures and has cognitive delays.
At the same time, she is a happy child, according to her mom. “She loves movement, music and being outside. She smiles, giggles and laughs all the time, and she has lots of friends at school.”
Sylvia is a kindergartner at Tates Creek Elementary.
She also needs 24-7 care, which can be overwhelming for Jill, a former schoolteacher who now works part-time at Vision Impaired Preschool Services where Sylvia receives treatment.
Her husband Keith is a mental health therapist at UK.
So when Jill learned that she was selected for the Mighty Moms project, she was thrilled. Altrusa volunteers met the women for breakfast at a Best Western hotel where the Mighty Moms received name tags and introduced themselves to the group.
After getting to know each other, they boarded a bus for a trip to a horse farm where they toured the stables and farm house and posed for a group photo.
They met for lunch at Griffin Gate hotel and then returned to the Best Western for a pamper me afternoon of haircuts, facials, massages and jewelry making.
“It was great to talk with the other moms and hear their stories and struggles,” Jill said. “We got to make new friends.
“It was also really cool that the Altrusa volunteers were acknowledging all the things that we have to do.”
After dinner on the patio at Azur restaurant, the moms returned to the hotel where some went to their rooms and others met at the hot tub for more conversation and relaxation.
“To be able to go away and have a great time, and then come home and everything is OK there, that was great,” Jill said. “It was a really wonderful experience and I’m very grateful to Altrusa. They did an amazing job.”
Born with periventricular leukomalacia (the leading cause of cerebral palsy), she can’t sit up on her own, has limited motor skills and is cognitively delayed.
While Kim works as at a local hotel and her partner Scott Douglas, works part-time, Starla spends weekdays at Kidz Club, a preschool for medically fragile children.
She also receives therapy at home through First Steps, a state program for children with developmental delays.
Kim works weekends so she can meet with Starla’s therapists during the week on her days off.
“She is one of the hardest working and impressive mothers I have met in 16 years with First Steps,” said Angie Casey, who nominated Kim for Mighty Moms.
Like Jill, Kim enjoyed meeting the other moms and savored every moment of the pamper me time. She got a major hair cut (more than six inches) and the massage… oh, the massage.
“That was the best 30-minute experience of my life,” Kim said. “It was pure heaven.”
But what impressed her most were the little things that Altrusa volunteers never overlooked.
After the group photo at the horse farm, the photo was framed and awaiting the moms when they arrived at the restaurant for dinner.
“There were gift baskets in our room with an insulated cup with the initials from one of last year’s Mighty Moms,” she said. “It meant a lot to us that they cared so much to do those little things.”
Kim moved to Lexington two years ago so meeting other moms provided needed social connections.
“The time we spent networking with each other was helpful,” she said. “It was good to talk to people going through the same things as us. The older moms told us about things their children are doing that no one expected.
“That really gave me hope.”
For information on Altrusa and Mighty Moms, visit www.altrusalexky.com or contact Angie Smith at (859) 338-2829.