Letter: I gained more than I gave while volunteering with PAA

By on November 5, 2009

I wanted to share a wonderful experience I had recently in Elburn.

A client/friend of mine has a child with Down Syndrome and asked last year if I would be interested in volunteering time to massage some of the other mothers who belong to Parents as Advocates (PAA) at their fall retreat. I agreed, thinking what a wonderful gift to give moms who care for children with special needs of all kinds, as well as possibly gain a client or two.

Well, last year was my first and this year my second, but it won’t be my last. I haven’t gained a client yet, and to tell you the truth, I don’t care. Yes, my massage business is a fledgling, and yes, I need clients, but giving to these women gives more to me than to them.

Today, too many people cast off children because they are not “perfect” by giving them up for adoption or even abortion, and others mistreat or neglect their needs. We hear it in the news all the time.

Not these moms. They love their children with heart, mind, body and soul—and it’s tough. To be a mom today means you will be busy if your child is “normal,” but if there are special needs involved it makes it much more demanding. Some of them have more than one child, and several of the children have more than one special need.

These ladies take a retreat each year to relax and be pampered—mostly by each other. A handful of us are the only “outsiders” who volunteer their time to help out.

Though PAA meets monthly about the nuts and bolts of how to deal with daily life, this weekend is just for them. They can awaken late if they so choose and stay up until the wee hours of the morning, giggling like school girls if they would like to. The food at the Great Lakes Leadership Campus is fantastic and served buffet style so you don’t even have to be on time to meals. Pajamas are the attire for breakfast and no need for sequins all weekend unless you would like to wear them to Knucklehead’s on Saturday night.

All parents with special needs kids are welcome to participate in this group, and yes, men are welcome to the meetings; after all it is called Parents as Advocates. If you want to be able to gather with others who know what your life is like, this is the place for you.

I very much look forward to meeting and relaxing you at PAA’s 5th annual retreat next year, which is always on the third weekend of October. Anyone interested in receiving more information about PAA can contact its founders, Carrie Capes (capesfamily@verizon.net) or Karol Peters (k.peters@foxvalley.net).

Annie Moore, LMT, NCTM
Atrium Wellness, Inc