I have a confession. It's super difficult for me to celebrate. Ever since Covid happened, it's almost as if the person in me who loved parties and getting friends together died. I mean, of course I celebrate my kids' birthdays and we celebrate holidays, but it's still a challenge for me.
So, when I got the IRS approval for Family First Villages to be recognized as a tax deducible charity, something that I didn't believe would happen for another 8-12 months, I was shocked. Instead of celebrating, I cried. And then I wondered what in the world I was going to do.
Normally, I'm a prepared person. But the approval arriving early left me feeling confused. I had many goals to achieve before we got approval, and that left me with "Where should I go now?"
However, the day after I got the letter I was leaving on a trip to visit my sister, Amy, in Virginia so that my kids could have cousin time and I could pick Annie up from her vacation. We had such a wonderful time. Then, we caravanned back to Charleston, SC where we grew up and took our kids Downtown. We had the absolute best day with friends!
When we got back to Atlanta, we took everyone (including Doc and Grammy) to The Varsity and the Coca-Cola Museum. It was such a fun experience, and something that not all of us had done before. As we were driving home, I realized that this was my celebration. This trip, this family, the friends that have helped me along the way, this is the way that I can celebrate right now. I am thankful!
When you deal with special needs in your family on a daily basis, it's super important to have a strong support group. We haven't found that within our community yet, but we do have it within our family unit.
We are so grateful that Annie can take vacation every summer with our younger sister, Amy, and her family in Virginia. This gives Annie a chance to care for and love on her nieces, and it gives my parents and my family a rest from Annie's daily needs.
Not everyone has a strong support system, which is one of the reasons we're creating Family First Villages. Families in the special needs community need support because it truly does take a village of people caring for these special people in our lives.
Family First Villages is still in the beginning/planning phase of starting. We have filed our 501C3 paperwork. While we wait for IRS approval, we are continuing the work of meeting families in our community and learning more about how we can help in the area where we currently live.
As part of our PHASE ONE goals, we plan to open a Family Entertainment Complex so that we can provide job training and jobs for special needs adults in our community. We look forward to working with neighbors and families on our dreams! And, we're excited to be able to offer long-term support to special needs families in Forsyth County.