- Find A Mentor
- Our Work
- Our Resources
- Online Training
Posted on November 22, 2016, by GAPMP
By Jane Grillo
Every marriage has its challenges. In my case, we live in a two writer home. One of us (Jerry) is really the pro. The other one (yours truly) dabbles in content writing for a website and the occasional press release or local newspaper story. Oh, and we both write Facebook and Twitter posts (do those even count?)
Jerry, my husband of 30-plus years, and I met at a college newspaper and our worlds have intertwined with the written word for as long as we have known each other. Currently, he works as a communications officer for Georgia Tech’s Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience. He calls himself an “alphabet engineer”. I personally think he does more than “engineer” the alphabet, I think he is an artist, a composer, and a lover of the written word. He works A LOT. Aside from his day job, he does some freelance work and he writes a blog.
Recently, one of his blogs, which emerged out of his frustration over how some people view our son Joe, who has CP, snagged the attention of Steve Fennessy, the editor of Atlanta magazine.
See story link at the bottom of the page.
The next thing I know, Jerry tells me in one of our drive-by style of communication methods, “A photographer from Atlanta magazine is coming to do a spread on Joe.”
The photographer, Matt Moyer, contacts us and gives us a couple of dates. Two days before he is supposed to come and do this thing, Joe goes into the hospital with a severe upper respiratory infection. Joe has narrow airway and so when he gets very congested it can be very serious and he must be monitored closely. This is our reality.
In the meantime, I looked at Matt’s website. He is the real deal. I gulped and considered whether or not I had time to get some liposuction before he rescheduled.
I thought about
- How unphoto-friendly I am
- How messy my house is
- How many little details (like contacting the school, the therapists, and all the people in Joe’s life which would need to be contacted for media releases) I was going to have to tack on to my to do list.
While we were in the hospital, I gave myself a quiet peptalk. “You are a ‘seasoned parent mentor’. You can handle this. It will be good for people to see Joe’s life. This story could help people in ways you can’t imagine. That’s what we do.”
That is what we do. That is what every parent mentor strives to do. We use our life experiences to help others navigate the challenging path of getting your child with a disability through infancy, childhood, through the teenage years, school, post secondary, and into a good life.
Anyway, Joe got out of the hospital. Matt spent three days with us. Everything was completed and then, nothing happened… until the November 2016 issue of Atlanta magazine came out and there we were. And, Steve Fennessy, who has a reputation for being a tough, no nonsense editor writes this heartwarming editorial about our story.
I am reminded again about how our ordinary seems so extraordinary to people who are not around people with disabilities. When the story came out, people from all different walks of life reached out to us. Some of those folks wanted to share about their own child, some people just told us how inspired they were by our story.
We parent mentors touch lives in ways we can’t imagine. We inspire people, we scare and worry people and move them. Our lives play out the universal themes of love, understanding, and patience.
Turns out, as advocates, parent mentors often find themselves negotiating the nuances of public relations and marketing in social and news media in our ongoing efforts to help people understand about why people with disabilities, and, most importantly, their success as independent adults is so important AND possible. Madison County Parent Mentor Pam Walley and her daughter Callie, have been featured in numerous publications. Atlanta Public Schools Parent Edith Abakare’s image was prominently featured in a GCDD Making A Difference magazine, with her fist raised in air, engraving the word “advocate” into the readers’ minds. April Wooten’s son Marcus, has become a symbol of the success of Clemson’s Post Secondary Inclusion Program due to a news story broadcast on WYFF4 news. That’s just a few examples.
I hope that our story (see below) will inspire you to tell yours. Because we all have a story to tell about our children, our lives and our work. And don’t forget to share it with me, so I can share it here on our website.
My son is a constant loop in my thought track. My son is the boy you can hear from outside the house or from the other room, making sounds that seem to have no form. Read more