Even though it was 37 years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday. Our third child was born at 2:15 on a Sunday morning. We decided to name her Tracy Ann. After making sure everything was OK, I went home to get a little sleep. When I returned a few hours later everything seemed fine. But then the doctor walked into the room and informed us that Tracy had Down Syndrome. We were shocked. We had heard the term before, but we really didn’t know exactly what it was or how it would impact our lives.
Our first encounter with Hope Haven was when Tracy was three months old. An instructor came to our home and showed us how to teach her basic abilities such as turning over, sitting up, crawling, etc. But we moved to Atlanta shortly thereafter and thus lost contact with them. While in Atlanta, Tracy attended school and had some wonderful teachers, but we were concerned about her transition from school to adult life. This was one of the reasons we decided to move back to Athens.
Once Tracy graduated from high school, we looked again to Hope Haven for help. Now, their mission was to provide services for adults with all kinds of disabilities, both physical and mental. They helped us understand how the system worked and administered the Medicaid funds to which Tracy was entitled. Since she had developed some serious debilitating conditions, she qualified for the Medicaid waiver. Because of this, Hope Haven was able to provide services for Tracy in our home five days a week. One of their trained staff members came to our house each weekday and made sure that Tracy was well cared for and received training in essential life skills. The staff member also took her out into the community and helped her interact with others.
We have been blessed to have the same faithful staff member take care of Tracy for many years. She has become like part of our family. Tracy even refers to her as her “second mother.” Her name is Linda, and she is completely reliable, trustworthy, and competent. We feel totally comfortable leaving Tracy in her care. This was especially important while we were both still involved in our careers. Now that we are retired, it is still important as it allows us time to spend together as a couple as well as time to care for elderly parents, maintain friendships and help at our church.
We are incredibly grateful for Hope Haven and the services they provide. They have made and continue to make a difference in our lives as well as in Tracy’s life. We honestly don’t know what we would do without them.