When Amy Berkheimer’s son Eli was born with cerebral palsy, the family had no idea the journey they would embark on. While still in the NICU, a Parent to Parent volunteer from Children’s Village came up to visit with Amy, her husband and Eli and gave the family a flyer for Valley Parents, a support group for families with children who have special needs.
“We were also connected with a family resource coordinator who would be a lifeline to services and information we would need for Eli,” Amy said.
The family resource coordinator was able to arrange for the family to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle as well as cover the fee when Eli was airlifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital soon after birth.
When the family returned home, Eli began receiving services through Children’s Village when he was about 4-months-old. The Early Intervention program was a wonderful service and therapists would come to the house to work with Eli.
“It made our crazy life of appointments a little more bearable when we could stay in the comfort of our own home,” Amy said.
Around the same time, the family also began regularly attending the Valley Parents support group. Through connections at Children’s Village, Amy was connected with two other moms who had tube fed kids.
“Not too long into our journey, I decided I needed to offer support to other parents on their journey. I went through the helping parent training, and started being matched with moms just starting their journey of raising a child with special needs,” she said. “I also decided to become a Memorial Hospital Volunteer, because the people in the NICU were so great to me when we were there. Not only do they take care of your medically fragile baby, they also take care of the emotionally fragile moms and dads.”
As the years have gone by, Amy and her family continue to be involved in and around Children’s Village. “We started attending the different socials that the Village had to offer. It has been invaluable to me, as I was able to get to know other families and their children on a deeper level….and make them a part of my special family and community,” Amy said.
And as of October 2011, Amy now works in the Parent to Parent office.
“I’ve come full circle through the Village. All the people who have helped me on my journey…I now get to assist in helping those who come behind me,” she said.