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Andrew Family

January 29  |  3 minute read

Chris has been going to Jill’s House since he was seven years old, so everyone at Jill’s House knows him! As soon as we walk into the building, the people at the front desk greet him by name: “Hi, Chris! Welcome!” Even the first weekend he stayed at Jill’s House, through his tears because he had missed us, Chris asked earnestly: “Can I come back? When can I come back?!” This has become like a second home for Chris, that’s for sure.

There has been a lot to mourn during COVID—Chris really missed the Christmas party because he looks forward to it every year, but Jill’s House recommended other COVID-safe options such as an outdoor sing-along hosted by McLean Bible’s Access Ministry. The things like that which Jill’s House thinks about on our behalf are so kind— a true lifeline during really difficult times.

As much as things have changed over the last year, we have still been able to experience Jill’s House services through a few days of summer camp as well as a few weekends! It is amazing that Jill’s House has been able to be open when so much else has not—like we mentioned, it is such a lifeline.

On April 13th, 2020, one of Christopher’s favorite Client Care Specialists gave him a call. Jill’s House had just temporarily shut down until it could open safely again, and the staff was trying to find creative ways to serve its families. I was thinking this would be a 10-minute phone call, but this staff member scheduled a 45-minute video call! That conversation and virtual time together absolutely made Christopher’s day. That was during the real, big-time lockdown when really hardly anything was going on, and it provided so much comfort to Christopher to have someone who knew him well and remembered his inside jokes.

It is of course amazing for us to get that time away, but Chris needs his own time, needs time away from parents to play, and needs time to be with peers, as well.

Chris: “My first question when I leave Jill’s House is ‘When am I coming back?’”

Each Jill’s House stay is such a lovely break for him, and we have so much to catch up on when we come back together afterwards! The past year has been hard, and I don’t know how it could have been done without Jill’s House. I don’t want to imagine it without Jill’s House. Children like Chris need their schedules and their peers—Zoom doesn’t cut it! He is a social guy, and a lot of what he loves is the relationships with the staff members. If we had to name his top favorites, Chris loves “the counselors, and the friends, and the moon bounce” the best! When he was young, he loved singing in the chapel, and now that he’s older, he loves the inside jokes that the staff will remember and share with him.

Each time Chris stays, we receive a little sheet outlining all the activities he participated in. Chris has collected all of them, keeps them in a notebook, and loves looking through it to remember each Jill’s House visit. He was once there for his birthday, and all the staff members that day made a beautiful card and signed it—you bet that’s in the notebook, as well! There are so many terrific Jill’s House memories built up for Chris.

Our daughter is a performer and goes to college for acting. It has been a huge deal for her to have us at her shows—something that would only be possible with the help of Jill’s House to spend our weekend doing things we wouldn’t typically be able to do.

For us, we have been able to attend workshops that guide us as we think about raising our son. Jill’s House provides wonderful resources like that. I (Todd) have really enjoyed the dad’s events—things like the Nationals game with other Jill’s House dads, who are all over the map in terms of just starting on this journey or bringing years of experience to the table.

The building itself is tailor-made for kids of all needs. The fact that there are nurses on staff brings us huge peace of mind. Jill’s House does everything it can to make sure nothing will happen to our kids, and if it does, there is someone there to handle it.

As far as important jobs go, we feel that what Jill’s House does is critical for the special needs community. Everyone at Jill’s House is treated with VIP treatment—from the children to the parents, the way everyone is spoken to is deeply empathetic and compassionate. Whenever we have conversations with people, there is no negativity, only “We LOVE Chris!”

That is something so many parents experience. We met another Jill’s House couple whose son pulled the fire alarm at Jill’s House, and afterwards were reflecting on how differently Jill’s House handled that situation from how a school would have. At a place like school, any special needs parent would have gotten a phone call saying: “You need to come down here!”, and once in the office, parents hear all about what their child did wrong and the other ten things he did wrong that week.

Instead, Jill’s House starts by talking about the fun our children had, because that is what is most important, and what a wonderful time they had with him, and only then do they mention casually, “He pulled the fire alarm, so here’s how we handled that,” and then they move on! It is so awesome that they prioritize celebrating our kids, not simply tolerating them. I feel emotion talking about it because we get the opposite attitude from almost every other place. It is a refreshing attitude, a refreshing way to interact—it is so lovely. Compassion is at the root of what goes on at Jill’s House—there is so much of it there, and we are so grateful for it.

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 © 2018 Jill’s House

Enjoy this story? Share it with your friends or read more like it!

Share on facebook
Facebook
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Google+
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Twitter
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 © 2018 Jill’s House