In September, our team visited Dallas, Georgia to follow up with the kids we support, hear about their journeys, celebrate their successes and offer additional support. One of those kids is Tony, a Jacob’s Fund scholarship recipient. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Tony’s journey has been a hard one and life continues to throw challenges in his path.
As you may remember from a previous report, Tony’s mother was given a diagnosis of inoperable esophageal cancer when he was only 15, an already turbulent time in a young person's life. His family’s resources and energy centered on his mother's health and care, leaving Tony without a stable home life. Unable to continue his therapy sessions, Tony began to withdraw and, unfortunately, his attitude and behavior began slipping.
That’s when Jacob’s Fund stepped in to provide continuous weekly therapeutic riding. With a lot of hard work, Tony went on to qualify for the 2011 Equestrian Special Olympics where his mother was able to watch him compete and capture medals only weeks before her death.
Shortly thereafter, Tony’s world turned upside down. Since his mother’s passing, he has become homebound, spending most of his time on the computer or just listening to music. His family is often absent and opportunities for outings are practically nonexistent as are social interactions. Thankfully, a weekend caregiver drives him to the Farm once a week for his one-hour sessions, the only consistent thing in his life.
Tony recently completed a work adjustment program offered by the state of Georgia and successfully worked at Goodwill, TJ Maxx and other short-term jobs, with transportation provided by the state. Back at home, and without transportation, Tony is unable to hold a job, something he desperately wants and needs. He is currently on a waiting list for life-skills classes as well as for placement in a group home.
While his body grows thinner and thinner, his hope and optimism is heartbreakingly beautiful. Tony may never be able to live independently, but his urge to take charge of as much of his life as he possibly can inspires us to find ways to help him live his life in the fullest possible way. We hope you will join us in supporting Tony as a young adult, providing continuous therapy.
In an effort to bring hope and healing to hearing-impaired orphans and children at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, The Red Thread Promise has teamed with Team Canada Healing Hands to provide hearing / audiological services to children in need. Our partnership allows both groups to focus on different aspects of the project, capitalizing on our individual strengths, with one common goal: to give the gift of hearing to as many children in Haiti as possible.
Team Canada has spearheaded the construction of an audiology booth onsite at St. Vincent’s. Also called a sound isolation chamber, this booth is used by audiologists to accurately evaluate the children's degree of hearing loss and make appropriate recommendations for treatment and / or hearing aids. Technicians in the group make molds, conduct hearing aid testing and fitting sessions, provide follow ups and maintenance.
The Red Thread Promise has taken on the challenge of raising funds to purchase 500 NEW digital hearing aids: enough for each hearing impaired child at St. Vincent's as well as stocking the permanent hearing clinic for the surrounding community. Children who previously had used analog aids will receive new digital aids specifically programmed for their hearing loss. Orphans who only had one aid but needed two will receive two.
Our goal is lofty—500 hearing aids by the end of 2012. To date, we have raised $5,000 to purchase 16 hearing aids. For each donation of $300, The Red Thread Promise can purchase and donate one digital hearing aid to a child in need. Such a small price for an invaluable gift!
Over the past few months we have been actively working with St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children to finish distributing our supply of All Terrain Wheelchairs (ATWs). Over 90% of the chairs have been distributed to people with disabilities in and around Port-au-Prince.
We continue to offer maintenance and repairs for those already in circulation and are constantly re-evaluating the wheelchairs for areas of improvement on the next shipment. Since our last report, the team discovered that the original tubes shipped with the chairs did not fare well in the intense Haitian heat and began researching alternatives.
After sending a variety of tubes to St. Vincent's to test in the climate, we identified ones that were more suitable to the extreme conditions. Orders were placed so that every wheelchair in circulation as well as those in storage would receive replacement tubes that would better hold air. Prior to shipment, each tube was tested by the manufacturer to ensure that there were no holes or defects.
By your continued support, we can meet our goals for this project:
We invite you to continue helping us support people with disabilities in Haiti.