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Posts published in “Day: September 29, 2011”

The Power of Sharing

By Angie Liang

Keep it to yourself. That used to be our family motto. We never talked about my sister’s “condition,” especially not to anyone outside the family. We were private, and there was nothing anyone could to do help anyway.

In high school, I started to rebel against our silence. I was beginning to learn who I was (headstrong) and what I wanted to do (make a difference). Being on the newspaper staff during this time helped me develop a voice, and despite my parents’ hesitancy, I wrote about my relationship with my sister. For the first time, our story became public.

There is nothing heroic — or shameful — about our family. My sister has mild mental retardation, or more appropriately, she is a wonderful woman with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She is lively and clever, attends community college and job training, lives in a group home, and is a Special Olympics athlete. Nowadays, everyone around us knows of her achievements. They have seen her grow and blossom over the years.

My parents and I have grown and blossomed along with her. After meeting and talking with other families we found that this informal support network mattered, that other people understood our experiences. Their friendship gave us strength. So my parents began telling our story and sharing their strength too.

My parents now work tirelessly on FFASN (Friend and Families of Asians with Special Needs), a nonprofit they helped found to inform and empower parents and caregivers about what they can do for their loved ones. (Note: Despite the name, FFASN is for everyone, not just Asian families.) With other volunteers, my parents organize support meetings for parents, sports teams and musical activities for their children, and fun picnics and festivities for the community. They dedicate much of their resources to something they truly believe in.

One of their most impressive undertakings so far was hosting the first FFASN community workshop earlier this year. The workshop focused on educating parents and caregivers about available resources, such as waiver programs. As a FFASN volunteer, I flew home to help out with the workshop.

That day was moving in many ways. Watching my mild-mannered father open the workshop and encourage a room full of parents to be their child’s advocate was especially inspiring. But the best part was hearing all the positive feedback from participants about how helpful the workshop was. One woman graciously told me, “Really, thank you for doing this.” But that the credit really belonged to all the wonderful volunteers who make FFASN possible.

I never dreamed my parents would go from “keep it to yourself” to sharing their story and creating a nonprofit. After years of silence, they opened up in a big way. I wrote this column because I am incredibly inspired and amazed by their hard work and continued efforts to make not only my sister’s life better, but other families’ lives as well.

* * * * *

FFASN will be hosting its second community workshop, “Long Term Planning for People with Special Needs,” on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 at the MHMRA Conference Center at 7033 SW Freeway, Houston, Texas 77074. Early registration encouraged, seating is limited to 100. There is a $10 registration fee for attendees and lunch is provided. To learn more about the workshop or FFASN, please visit www.ffasn.org or email FFASN.Houston [at] gmail [dot] com — or feel free to email Angie at JBUcolumn [at] gmail [dot] com as she will be attending the workshop.

Czech Fest at Sacred Heart on Sunday Oct. 2

CROSBY– The 13th annual Crosby Czech Fest will take place Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Crosby Fairgrounds. The event is sponsored by Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Czech Heritage Society.

New this year to the Czech Fest are several fun game booths for the kids. The kids willl enjoy new and old games, a moonwalk and slides. While adults enjoy the bingo and the live auction that begins at 1 p.m.

Our live auction will feature several experience trips including a crappie fishing excursion and a Mother/Daughter day of fishing with everything in pink camo, including the boat.

Featured entertainers are Texas Sound Czech, Heritage Singers and Marilyn Sikora Dancers. The day long event includes homemade kolaches, barbeque plates, lots of game booths and inflatables for the kids, a super live auction, and a Czech band and dancers. We begin serving the food at 11:30 a.m. and the auction begins at 1 p.m.

Everyone is invited to come out to enjoy a beautiful fall day celebrating Crosby’s Czech heritage.

Teddy Bear Clinic gives kids a tour of SanJac hospital

Dozens of local kids and adults took a unique tour through San Jacinto Methodist Hospital during the facility’s annual Teddy Bear Clinic, held Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Throughout the event, the children’s patients — stuffed animals of every shape and form — were given the utmost care by members of the hospital’s staff. The goal of the program is to take some of the scariness out of being admitted and treated by the hospital.

Outside the hospital, representatives from the Houston Dynamo professional soccer team gave youngsters a chance to shoot a soccer ball past a goalie in an inflatable tent, while carnival games, snow cones and face painting were also up for the taking. Representatives from Baystar Ambulance Company were on site to give tours of an ambulance as well.

Once inside, children and their “patients” went through a step-by-step process. First their toys were admitted to the hospital, with representatives asking what symptoms the stuffed charges had; were they sick? Did they have an accident? What was ailing them that day?

From there, the stuffed animals were taken into assessment, where tests were given to determine what their “symptoms” meant. Temperatures were taken, reflexes were checked, and then the children took their patients onward through the process.

Children saw how the hospital staff administers intravenous fluids, and how they check actual patients’ respiratory systems. Staff were on hand to put pretend casts on stuffed toys that may have taken a tumble or two, and representatives from the hospital’s dietary division gave tips on healthy eating, both for the kids and their toys.

Ultrasound technicians examined the imaginary contents of the patients’ stomachs, and pharmacy staff put on a puppet show that illustrated the importance of taking medication correctly.

Representatives from the Baytown Police Department were there as well, measuring the kids’ height and weight and providing the opportunity for families to pick up identification cards with their childrens’ vital information and photo.

Though the event was held with tongue in check, it does serve a valuable purpose — showing kids that the hospital is there to help them, and to relieve some of the fear that can come with a hospital stay.

For more information, call 281-420-8600 or visit www.methodisthealth.com.

PUBLIC NOTICE

The Chambers County Commissioners’ Court will conduct a public hearing to hear the progress of the District Clerk’s Records Archive Fund, Senate Bill 1685, to fund the preservation and restoration of the District Clerk’s records. The meeting will be held on October 11, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. in the Courtroom of the Chambers County Courthouse, Anahuac, Texas.

55th Annual Highlands Jamboree Saturday

HIGHLANDS– 56 Years ago, the first Jamboree was held on Main Street in Highlands, celebrating the opening of the new Highlands State Bank, and in many ways the coming of age of the community. Thousands attended, welcoming the bank and the awakening of this town.

After skipping a year, Highlands has held their Jamboree celebration every year since. It currently is a function of the Greater Highlands Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce, with proceeds benefitting their projects during the year.

Almost everyone in town participates in one way or another, and there are plenty of events to partake. The theme of the Jamboree this year is “HIGHLANDS — A HIDDEN TREASURE” and floats and booths are asked to carry out a pirate theme.

Events include a Fun Run/Walk starting at 7 am at the Community Center; a Parade at 10 am on Main Street; then at the Elementary School Crafts Booths, Car Show, BBQ, Children’s Pageant, Silent Auction, and Entertainment of various sorts by local groups.

In conjunction with the Jamboree day, the Highlands Horizons will hold the Miss Highlands and Jr. Miss Highlands pageants in the Junior School auditorium.

Prizes will be awarded for best parade floats, and best crafts booths. In addition, the Car Show, with exhibits from local enthusiasts, will make awards too. Ellard Lambert will show several of his restored autos, always a treat.