Jessica and Jeffrey Johnston shared their personal story about how they were inspired to get involved with Jawonio at our Cabin Celebration on July 26th–a historic moment, where the community came to celebrate the completion of phase 1 of the Building for Tomorrow Campus Transformation Project on Jawonio’s main campus.
Jessica and Jeffrey met with Jim Johansen, President of the Jawonio Foundation, along with Anilus, one of our Summer Education students at the new William T. Morris Summer Education Cabin.
Jessica and Jeffrey were introduced to Jawonio four years ago in 2014. Jeffrey is a Board member of the William T. Morris Foundation and approached Jawonio after learning about the work we do. They toured our campus, and were especially interested in the Infant Development/Early Intervention Program and Early Childhood Services. They witnessed firsthand the breadth of services and support offered for children with disabilities and special needs at Jawonio, and they wanted to be involved.
Jessica has a son with special needs, for whom she had challenges getting the services he needed when he was younger. After seeing the struggles that Jessica went through when trying to get services for her son, Jeffrey’s stepson, Colin, this inspired urgency and passion to get involved.
After touring Jawonio and seeing the children receiving therapy, playing, learning, and receiving nurturing care, Jessica expressed the incredible emotions that it stirred up in her. She saw infectious and positive energy not only from the children in the program but also from the staff. When she realized the children of Jawonio receive such wonderful support and care, it made her reflect on all of the kids who are out there in our society along with their parents, who have special needs and face incredible challenges in getting the help that they need–much like her own earlier experiences.
In her speech at our Cabin Celebration, Jessica quoted startling statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicate that about 1 in 6 children in the United States have a developmental disability, from speech and language delays, to intellectual disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism. That is a significant number: where millions of children need services and parents need aid in finding it.
“Parents need help finding the services that they need for their kids,” said Jeffrey. The William T. Morris Foundation got involved in supporting Jawonio thanks to Jeffrey’s leadership; and in 2016 they began investing in the Jawonio Capital Campaign, in support of building the new Summer Education facilities, fully sponsoring the largest of the three cabins, where the Cabin Celebration took place.
Jessica said, “If the original seven families who founded Jawonio were here to see what’s being done today, they would be amazed. What Jawonio is doing is amazing…this building is amazing but this is just a start. This has to be the start of something bigger. Now it’s up to families in the community to take what was started and do more. It’s up to all of us.”
Thank you to the William T. Morris Foundation and Jeffrey & Jessica Johnston for their generosity and investment in the future of Jawonio so we can continue serve children with disabilities and special needs for generations to come! Tune in to 32:00 on the Cabin Celebration video here to hear Jessica and Jeffrey’s message.
Jessica and Jeffrey shared their story at the Jawonio Cabin Celebration on July 26th, 2018.