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Reflections Gratitude and Celebration

by Molly Buist

It is with deepest gratitude and sincerest honor that I write the first provider blog post for Family Hope Foundation’s new website. I have been working alongside this group since their inception in 2009 and to write this now means to reflect on all of the Foundation’s sheer wonder that has been done. It continues to be a shared labor of absolute commitment—providing children and families with the support that are needed to ensure that their child is able to reach their greatest potential. No family when presented with the task of hearing that their child has a hard time learning to walk, talk, play or express their feelings should ever have to hear that there is no source of funding to cover the expenses for their services. The necessity of helping provide such support is apparent now more than ever, and families in West Michigan have been able to access therapies that would otherwise be unavailable because of the Foundation’s ongoing mission.

There are many stories to be told about the Foundation’s beginning, which we remember first and foremost to be a time of incredible adversity. Thinking about the possibility of having formed a non-profit that provides therapies for child rendering an extremely unstable economic period (now known to us as the Great Recession) is utterly astounding. Would anybody even donate as there was such financial hardship already? The idea seemed impossible. It was with nothing but pure determination that the decision would be made to forge ahead and hope that it was a success.

The biggest achievement of the whole endeavor—if I am to choose only one out of many—has been culminated by the devoted members of the board who have dedicated their time and ideas since its inception. It is their never-ending belief in the children and families coming to them for support that any of this has continued to develop in innumerable and impactful ways. This is the labor of true support and compassion. It goes without saying that the other source of gratitude is the support of the donors that have sustained their belief in the Foundation’s mission. It is the relationship between these forces that makes the Foundation continue not only to grow but to thrive.

In the world of research, an imperative aspect that provides us all with greatest stability is one overlooked thing most taken for granted: that of relationship health. It helps us to be the best that we can be. Reflecting on this past year of the pandemic and the lack of social interaction with others, it is with great happiness that I can say that I find my relationship with the Foundation, and especially with the executive director, Jane Eppard, to be one thing that I hold most dear. And, as we continue to emerge out of a new period of extreme hardship both economic and otherwise, we see just how integrally necessary and vitally important the Foundation has become.

The need remains great and will continue to be of demand for the coming years as more and more children are demonstrating the need for additional support. Those working in the field of rehabilitation, child development and mental health are able to identify earlier signs and symptoms warranting intervention. It is this relationship between the child/caregiver and the practitioners that makes the child’s true potential come to life. Children need our support, and the continued expansion of the Foundation’s outreach will provide for that.

We know now, without any question of doubt, that early intervention plays a key role in the support of children requiring services to the many types of therapies that the Foundation provides access to. Thanks to that support an ever-increasing number of families are able to engage in therapies that match the needs of their children with providers that are experts in their field. These experiences provide us with the stories of admiration and appreciation that we see in the monthly (quarterly) newsletters which display the true depths of gratitude from the children’s caregivers.

It is with great elation that we celebrate at my clinic two times a year when we get the list of the families that will be receiving a scholarship. Cheers of joy ring out and therapists are very excited. We support such growing relationships in all of the work that we do not only at my clinic, but outside of it as well. I am happy to say one last thing to the board and to my friend Jane: here is to another 10+ years of unending belief in the power of relationships within families and their communities, which is to say, our community.

Many thanks to each of you at the Family Hope Foundation for your hard work and years given to this amazing endeavor. Your hearts are felt in all that is given.

Warm best,
Molly Buist