My oldest daughter's name is Maddy. She is 13 years old and has a Chromosome 10q(25.2-26.11) deletion. What is that you ask? Great question! It is a deletion on the long arm of Chromosome 10, specifically section 25.2-26.11. It doesn't have a name or a large awareness/support group. In fact, in 2010 when she was 7 years old, we finally discovered her diagnosis and learned that there were 66 other reported cases in the world. World! Most of the others were boys and so we were left with little information. Since then we have taken each day as it comes not knowing what to expect based on reported norms or prognosis from others. It was a long road to accept this but God has faithfully reminded us that we do not know what to expect of our own lives so we do not need to worry about Maddy's. One thought has always stuck with me though. Who will take care of my Maddy if we are not able to? You see at 13 she is still very dependent on us. Daily life skills, hygiene, her safety, her basic needs.....these are very much still attended to by us. How far will she progress in these areas on her own, I do not know. I do know that she will need lifelong assistance.
Will Joshua and/or Macy take her under their care if Budd and I can't? I would hope but I also can't expect them to either. What if something happened to them too? Sure this all sounds extreme but this is in my mind more than it should be without an answer. So the questions swirls with no end in my heart and mind causing anxiety. I am sure there are other parent's with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities who worry about this too. I know this is universal. Who is going to take care of him/her when I cannot? Who is going to show the same level of love, devotion, respect, compassion, and loyalty as I do to my daughter?
About two months ago my husband was working on Saturday at the Covington Farmer's Market selling our Naturally Well With Samantha products. A customer was talking with him about a new restaurant right outside of Abita Springs called Cafe Milne. They went on to tell him how amazing the food was and how it is located in a subdivision which has 12 assistive living group homes for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They talked about how beautiful the community is and how amazing the services are for these women. Budd came home and asked me if I knew this was essentially in our backyard. I hadn't. Never knew. Never heard of it. I wanted to know more. I immediately pulled up the website and Facebook page. I learned every bit I could about Cafe Milne and Alexander Milne Developmental Services. Everything. It was amazing to me and I wanted to see it for myself. On Sunday late afternoon, we piled the kids in the car and took a drive. There it was 12 minutes from my house and it was at first sight peaceful and beautiful. There were 12 adorable cottage style homes with screened in porches, rocking chairs, sidewalks, bikes, a pond, beautiful shade trees, picnic tables, and simple but beautiful landscaping. We drove slowly taking it all in and hoping no one thought we meant any harm. The kids wanted to get out and play in the open field and ride the bikes we saw. It was that welcoming and safe feeling. As we drove away and got back on the highway this wave of emotion hit me like a ton of bricks and I began to cry. I couldn't stop. All I could think was that the families of this precious ladies (and now presently 4 men in one of the homes) do not have to worry anymore. That burden of "Who will love and take care of them when I can't?" has been lifted. I felt the release of those fears for those people and I was so happy for them! My kids kept asking, "Why is mommy crying?" Budd kept assuring them it was because I was happy. Of course their next question was, "Is Maddy going to live there?" I assured them that she would not as long as Budd and I could care for her. I feel like Maddy is a gift and I plan to treasure her until I cannot. I won't lie though and say I am not comforted to know if I cannot, this could be an option for her home. That evening after the kids were in bed I went back to the website and Facebook page. I looked at every picture they had posted and came across a long time customer in one of the pictures. I immediately messaged her and told her I wanted a tour. She happens to be the Executive Assistant there and was excited to hear from me! There was this tug at my heart that I just kept feeling about this place..........
Megan sat with me, Joshua, and Macy and told us all about the history of Alexander Milne Developmental Services, what they offer today, the community involvement events, the community outings, the annual Mardi Gras ball, the jobs some of the individuals have, about some of their stories and personalties. She shared how the state funding only covers a small portion of the daily budget because they have higher standards in care. The rest of the funding is made through fundraising and contributions. The tug at my heart was stronger. Megan took us on a tour around the grounds, into Cafe Milne, and into one of the 12 homes. Each home is staffed with 24 hour care so that the residents can be as self sufficient as possible. There we met four of the most precious women. I could have sat all day and visited with them. They were so very proud of their home! They each showed us their rooms, their paintings and pictures, their bed spreads and plush dolls arranged on top their beds, they told us about meeting New Orleans Saints players (jealous! ha!) and showed their Saints things off. The tug of my heart continued and I knew why. As we walked back to the car I told Megan I had be involved there. My whole family for that matter. We all wanted to be there, visit them, help them. We wanted to know more of the individuals there. I had to be involved. I knew I was being led there for a reason other than to be comforted with knowing it existed if we ever needed it.
After much prayer and approval from the Board of Directors of Milne, Budd and I are so thrilled to announce that for the life of our business, Naturally Well With Samantha, we will be partnering with Alexander Milne Developmental Services in several ways.
1. A portion of the profits made on every purchase of Naturally Well With Samantha products will go directly to the Alexander Milne General Support Fund.
2. Our labels, business cards, flyers, etc. will all be updated to add their website info.
3. I will be advertising all of their social events and fund raisers on Naturally Well With Samantha Facebook Page and website.
4. I will be on the Friends of Milne Committee helping to raise awareness, funds, volunteers, and community involvement. My family will also be volunteering at any events they have that we are available for.
Budd and I have always known that God would use us and our business for His glory. I believe my heart tugs were a clear calling to this and we are so thrilled! Do you want to know more about Milne? Would you like to volunteer? Come visit with the ladies and men? I still have not met them all and can't wait to! My kids want to go ride bikes with them. I want to just sit on the screened porches and chat. There is also a Crawfish Festival Fundraiser coming up. Want to help with that? Would you like to teach a class, come play some music, or read a book? They welcome you and are excited to have you. Do you feel led to make a donation?
We have visited two of the homes so far and I can assure you of this, there is love, devotion, respect, compassion, and loyalty and so much more at Milne. We are so honored and blessed to be a part of them and help insure that they will be around and providing care and services at a high level for many years to come.
For more information or to volunteer contact Megan Galey, Executive Assistant at MGaley@milneds.org or 985-327-6550.