Friday, October 24, 2008

A Cry for Help

Today I want to ask for your help. A fellow blogger K8 the GR8 who I adore has a special needs child whose school is in dire need of any support we can offer. When you have the time go over to her site and read one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read "The Secret Fire". I believe that God gives special needs children to those of us he deems special enough to handle it...those who have a grace, strength and courage the rest of use just don't have. I am going to repost her post from today complete with links so that if you can help you will know where to go and what to do.

A cry for help

"Parenthood is by no means a sure thing. In our heads, we form a theatre of characters… the characters who play us are nicely predictable, the children - our imagined children - that act out cute renditions of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ in our heads are often sadly far from the parallel reality. The trouble is, you never know what shape the jelly mold of combined DNA will actually take until it’s too late.

Let me throw you a hot spud… when you’re walking down a populated street and your gaze falls upon a disabled child being pushed by a resilient parent, your gaze is not of admiration or respect. No. If you’re like me, like most of the planet, you’ll feel a sudden sadness. You catch a smell of pathetic tragedy that such a child occurred and you make a concerted effort not to stare.

As you walk away, you say to yourself: ‘Oh please God, don’t ever let that happen to my babies.’

God listened as that prayer left my lips as a young woman, and made his decision right there and then, not to grant it. He proved to me that I was capable of loving the impossible, and I’m infinitely glad now that he did.

I felt like a martyr at first. I felt weak for accepting help, ashamed to even entertain the thought of handing my broken child over to capable hands for more than an hour at a time. I would’ve shoved the kid back up into my womb to grow into adulthood if I could, but instead I found an even safer haven… a paradise of open-minded un-adulterated top-quality care.

St Catherine’s ’special school’ approached me when Laughingboy was but a few months old and began taking him regularly in therapy classes at the tender age of one, the date he first started was the 3rd of September, 2002. I remember this date vividly for it was the day of Laughingboy’s last seizure, the regularity of these had been slowly growing more and more violent with each day passing so their sudden halt was amazing to us. Even his neurologist was lost for words.

Since that fateful day, St Catherine’s has carried my cross and has done the work that I could not possibly do. I cannot describe the guilt and grief I felt before they took my hand, the knowledge that I should be constantly entertaining this tiny rag-doll, this perpetual baby that couldn’t even acknowledge my existence. All I could do was wrap him up safe and leave him, staring into oblivion until I returned again. How selfish my free time became!

He acknowledges my existence now. He turns his head and smiles and giggles and kicks his perfectly formed legs with glee. St Catherine’s gave him those legs. They brought him swimming, they made splints to help his bones form properly and placed him in a whole array of positions so that his entire muscle mass developed. I couldn’t have done that. They play endless games and engage him in hand-over-hand entertainment, they sing to him and gave him the ability to lift his heavy head, all on his own. I can’t sing for peanuts.

St Catherine’s is in trouble.

This is where I become sheepish because this is where you come in, and I know that by now you have whiffed the familiar sweaty tang of a beggar-lady who is aware that a bended knee is not always a shameful thing.

St Catherine’s owes the Revenue Commissioners €1.25 million. The payments from the HSE and the Department of Education were halted suddenly in 2006 and now the school is in severe debt - while they are cagey with the exact number, I believe the number floats somewhere around the €6 million mark.

Needless to say, their belt has been tightened. There is now a bare minimum of staff, we the parents were informed at a meeting - I think even before the staff were - that redundancy packages were being bandied about. They have halted all counselling services for staff, cut weekend respite to the bare minimum, and let the extra nurses go. They have stopped all external training seminars thus halting progress in its tracks, and have put a stop to trips to the swimming pool.

But the worst of all. All those new babies, those new broken children in tireless hospitals are now on their own. Harry Cullen himself, a voluntary worker, CEO of the school, has to call these distraught parents ‘at such a vulnerable time’ as he said, and explain to them that the inn is full.

Apparently the HSE don’t want St Catherine’s to close, so they have told the school to create a recovery plan by the end of October and then they would talk further about the possibility of some cash. Mr. Cullen is not holding his breath however, he can see like the rest of us that the HSE seems to be in dire trouble itself.

And what of the Department of Education? I’m fearful of what to tell you, also I don’t know for sure. I sense that the school is staring down the barrel of a large gun, that’s all I can give you, really. The lack of information is quite bizarre.

The Revenue Commissioners are sympathetic to a point, but cutting through all the ducktape that pins St Catherines to its virtual interrogation chair will be very, very expensive.

So who is left? I’m afraid the answer is you, and your brothers, your sisters, your neighbours and your talkative coalman. Please help this amazingly worthy charity in any way you can. Their bank details are below, a standing order is there too… €5/month would be just out of this world, and the tax from this mighty gift would return to the school at the end of the year. They’ve even put together Christmas cards, if you’d like to buy some.

I’m slightly biased, I’ll admit, but they do a job that is way and above any amount of cash and you know it. Schools like St Catherines all over Ireland are suffering too, but I offer this one to you. I would do anything to stop it from liquidating so I ask you humbly for your help. Thank you so much for reading all of this, if all you can do is link to this page I would be eternally grateful.


And now for the official extras:

If you live in Co. Wicklow, freetext “Autism” to 50308, before 31st October 2008. If you join this affinity plan, 02 will donate 5% of your bill to St Catherine’s service until 31st December 2009. If you don’t live in Wicklow, text “autism” to 087-9245894.

Their banking information is as follows:

Account Name: St Catherine’s Association Ltd
Bank: Allied Irish Bank
Address: Church Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Ireland
Account No: 009920234
Sort Code: 93-35-54

And if you click HERE(here, I've linked to her page with the link as it is a downloadable form), you’ll find a printable standing order.

This is the website for the school; St Catherine’s EDC… you’ll find a lot more information on their services here. (Thanks to Prin for reminding me!)


Again, THANK YOU for any help you can give, you have no idea what this means to me!"

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