Letter: Parents As Advocates retreat is an amazing weekend

By on September 30, 2010

For the last four years, I have had the supreme pleasure of sharing a weekend with the most amazing, non-judgmental, open women I have ever been so fortunate to meet.

Every year, I attend a retreat sponsored by Parents As Advocates. By the end of the weekend, we are refreshed and ready to face the wonderful but challenging assignment of raising a child, or often children, with special needs.

Parents As Advocates is a group dedicated to helping children with disabilities in the local area. Our main focus is to help families become stronger advocates for their children. We meet over breakfast at Papa G’s one Saturday morning a month to network, offer support and learn from guest speakers. We have social events throughout the year, and share information/resources via our e-mail group lists.

Our retreat began as a small idea for which the hope was to just have a much-needed “girls’ night out,” but which blossomed into a two-day getaway, complete with pampering, discussion, and relaxation.

Our fifth annual retreat will be held On Friday through Sunday, Oct. 15-17, and will allow for up to 75 area moms to attend.

These ladies very rarely have the opportunity to get away on their own and focus on themselves. As you can imagine, mothering a child with special needs is a tremendous blessing, while at the same time, it also holds many difficulties that few can handle without some very trying times. Our mission is to provide these moms with an experience that will “recharge their batteries” and allow them to return to their families with a renewed sense of purpose and encouragement. Our theme this year is Life’s a Beach.

In the past, we have asked for help from our community and have been overwhelmed with your generosity. There are many things individuals can do to make this retreat a success.

You could make a donation to our “Love Baskets.” Each mom will be surprised to receive a beautiful basket brimming with little goodies, gift certificates, products and coupons when she arrives at the retreat. No item is too small to be accepted for the baskets, and anything you feel you could contribute would be very much appreciated.

Or, you could make a donation to be given away as a door prize. For example, last year we had donations which included everything from house-cleaning gift certificates, to teeth whitening, to digital cameras, to Motorola phones to dinner and play gift certificates, and everything in between. Everything is appreciated with the knowledge of the beautiful thought behind it.

If you frequent a business that provides services (ie: nail salons, hair salons, massages, chiropractors, etc.), you could give them information about our retreat and ask them to donate their time. If you do this yourself, you could consider coming to pamper our moms for a time. Most of these moms don’t take the time to pamper themselves, and they would be the most grateful of recipients. We have had many volunteers, including novice teenagers, in past years that come on Saturday afternoon to do nails, and you would think they provided an hour massage as our ladies are so thrilled.

A final way to help is by making a monetary donation toward a scholarship fund that we have set up for those that cannot afford the $170 registration fee. Most moms need some kind of stipend or scholarship, as much of the household money goes to various doctors, therapists and medications. These moms spend money on themselves last, if there is any left. We have been thrilled to offer some scholarships this year already, and the recipients are amazed at the generosity of some people.

Currently, we have 25 registered moms. If you know of someone who could benefit from this type of retreat, please have them contact our registration coordinator, Karol Peters, at K.Peters@foxvalley.net.

Heather Spaetzel
Sugar Grove