About 30 folks attended our February meeting. Magda Rodriguez, from Safe Kids of Western MA, spoke first about about keeping kids safe. For 20 years, Baystate Children’s Hospital has supported Safe Kids in our region. Magda opened her talk by observing that all kids get bumps & bruises. Safe Kids focuses on preventing serious injuries. Magda talked about innovative programming, such as “Kids Can’t Fly” falls prevention, “Be Safe, Be Seen” Halloween safety, and the “Not Even for a Minute” campaign to teach families about the dangers of leaving kids in hot cars. Safe Kids is best known for car seat and bike helmet programs. Magda will help families search for appropriate car seats for special needs kids. The Safe Kids Coalition meets on the first Monday of every month at 11am. For more information about the coalition, or to learn more about home injury prevention, check out Safe Kids of Western MA. Our second speaker was Maria Burke of WillPower Foundation and JERICHO. WillPower provides financial support to special needs families who are struggling to meet their children’s needs. WillPower grants up to $500/family to pay for mobility/sensory equipment, therapies, evaluations, special programs (summer camp)–items and services that are not covered by insurance or other programs. They have distributed $112,000 to Western MA families. All money is locally generated and distributed. This foundation was named for Maria’s son Will, who learned to walk with assistance received from Shriners Hospital. Here’s a wonderful thank-you from one child who received funds:
Maria talked about JERICHO, a Catholic organization that serves all families with special needs kids. They have offered programs on their beautiful campus in Holyoke, MA for the last 43 years. JERICHO hopes to develop a web portal for information to help local families. During announcements, we learned that Loving Care Agency was purchase by EPIC and plans to put more focus into serving medically fragile children. Our next meeting is on Wed, March 11th, 9:15-10:30am. We will be discussing Transition from the DDS Perspective with: Doug McCallum, DDS Director of Family Support, Central/West region Doreen Boyer & Stephanie Baldwin DDS transition staff, Franklin -Hampshire Area Office Arlene Lockenwitz, Parent, Family Bridges Program Join us!