Forwarded by Susan Atkins, State P2P Coordinator and submitted by Lauri Gerber, Garden City Center:
"When I was asked to go to a national director's meeting in Washington, D.C., I was excited and nervous and not sure I was the right person. That's a long way from home. I made the decision to go. I knew our Parent To Parent program is important but just did not realize how important. I have only been with Families Together for a year and a half and did not get the opportunity to use their services while my son was young. I am sure if I had, I would have survived a lot easier than I did. I had a very supportive family, but they did not always understand what I or my child was going through. I was so busy coping; I did not know what I needed.
Is there a way to know what information and resources are out there to help you? The P2P USA Board is an amazing group of dedicated women that care about people they do not even know. They have been there. The one thing that was discussed is that it does not matter how educated or how much parenting experience you have, when a child with a disability is born or a child has an accident or illness that leaves them with a disability, there are lots of things that a parent needs to know to be able to provide the best possible outcome for that child. That is what keeps them motivated. They shared the example of Betsy Santelli. Betsy did the research for the Parent To Parent program funded by the Beach Center in Kansas. It was a randomized control research study of the highest quality, and is one of only 15 done to test different ways to help parents. Betsy built the Parent To Parent program. She is no longer with us but her legacy lives on, especially in the women who knew her and the many lives she touched.
Seeing the dedication of the Board of Directors of Parent To Parent USA is both amaxing and humbling. They believe so earnestly in this program. They are all volunteers from across the United States. There is no dedicated funding. They have one working meeting a year when they get together and do everything else by phone or internet. This meeting was made possible through donations from other organizations. The Board has done a lot of work and are willing to do whatever it takes to get our families what they need. Look at their website at http://www.p2pusa.org
During this meeting the Board wanted to know what local programs were seeing as needs and how the Board could use their knowledge and contacts to lead the Parent to Parent programs into the future. They are partnering with many people at the federal level who believe in this program. It is their goal to lead the way and make things happen that will improve services to families. We need funding but more importantely people are realizing we need partnerships and cooperation instead of competition. The old saying, 'It takes a community to raise a child' is especially true when the child has a disability. Watch what our governing bodies are doing and let them know what is important in your family's situation. There are people with knowlwdge, contacts and research working for us. I think it is important you know that. It is important to do our part also. Help them be the force for us. They have the will. Do you?"