I am in a constant state of awe at the connections we make because of Down syndrome.
Jacob & I were recently in Chicago for a baby moon before Little Sister gets here. On our last night, we decided to go to a nice dinner on the “Magnificent Mile.” Yet, on a whim, we opted for a different restaurant a little further down.
The view was romantic. The service was spectacular. The food was amazing.
Keshet: working for inclusion of people with disabilities
The best part, however, were the people setting the room up for a local fundraiser. Alongside them, we noticed a man with special needs which prompted us to find out what the fundraiser was for. What we found was KESHET.
Keshet is an organization in the Chicago area that provides any opportunity possible for someone with special needs to thrive. I’m talking birth through adulthood. Amazing people doing amazing stuff for more amazing people.
After meeting one of the organizers, we were invited to join in the fun & we loved every minute that we got to brag about our sweet girl! What we had stumbled upon was a happy hour fundraiser hosted by their junior leader board, so most of the guests were in their 20’s & 30’s. It was so great to be surrounded by people our age that loved & understood someone with special needs as much as we do.
Learning more about Keshet
As we mingled, we got to meet the man that prompted us to introduce ourselves in the first place! Avi has Williams Syndrome & has been involved in the program since he was a kid. He now works hard for the organization running one of the housing units for adults. Avi was extremely busy during the event, he must have personally known every single guest- regardless, he greeted each one before being pulled away to give a short speech.
We also bonded with the CEO and one of her daughters. The CEO had been with the organization for almost 30 years! The passion she had for helping people with special needs was almost palpable.
Her daughter had the same qualities as her mom, showing much love and passion for those with special needs & we chatted for a long time. Kara’s story easily stole their hearts and they even got to fall a little bit more in love as we Facetimed during Kara’s bedtime.
Friendships For Life
As I continued chatting with the daughter she said something that really stuck with me.
She had recently moved back to the Chicago area to take on a job within the organization. She had been surrounded by people with special needs, including Avi, all her life as her mom worked her way up the Keshet ladder. When she took on the job, she found herself working as Avi’s boss. She said that sometimes it can be really hard to work with him. Why? Because they are such good friends.
I thought “What?! That’s it?” This is what the world needs to see. That’s the big challenge of working with someone who has a disability – laying down some boundaries regarding your friendship. Imagine that.
Finding a new family
As a special needs mom, it is very easy to feel lost and alone. It’s easy to slip into the mindset that what you’re doing isn’t working and what you’re trying to accomplish, big or small, just isn’t going to happen.
Then something like this happens – you unexpectedly stumble across a group of amazing people. You’re states away from home and yet you’ve found family.
What if we hadn’t taken our last minute getaway? What if we had kept our plans to eat at that first restaurant? There was a reason we came across this fundraiser. It was the perfect reminder that people are GOOD & that we are never alone. There are tons of others fighting just as hard as we are to give people like Kara & Avi a voice.
~You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one~John Lennon