Rocklin golf tournament will help special-needs children
When Kelly Young’s daughter came home from the neonatal intensive care unit 16 years ago, she turned to the WarmLine Family Resource Center for support.
That’s because Young’s daughter, now 16, has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Her baby was sent home from the hospital “with a tube down her nose through her stomach to feed her,” which Young said was something her friends and family were not familiar with.
“The most powerful thing to really understand is when you (have) a baby you have family and friends to give advice on how to care for your child,” Young said. “When you have a child with a disability, those natural resources don’t really work as well.”
Young said family members did not have information and resources for raising a special-needs child, so she turned to WarmLine. Young is now executive director of the nonprofit.
WarmLine is a nonprofit organization “that provides resources and support to families of children with special needs,” according to spokesperson Cid Van Koersel.
Counties served by WarmLine, according to Van Koersel, are Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Nevada, El Dorado and Alpine, with offices in Sacramento and Rocklin.
The nonprofit is holding its 10th annual fundraising golf tournament on April 26.
The golf tournament features “an 8 a.m. shotgun start with a four-person scramble format,” according to Van Koersel.
The $175 entry fee for each golfer includes registration, a continental breakfast, lunch and tee prizes, Van Koersel said.
Young said a raffle will also be held during the tournament.
She said Warmline is similar to a “surrogate family where we understand and have a shared experience of raising a child with special needs.”
“WarmLine gives people who have a child and don’t have other resources or other parents a soft place to land and an instant understanding of what it’s like to raise a child with a disability,” Young said. “We come from a really strength-based position. We’re there for support, but don’t get into a cycle of feeling sorry for ourselves.”
Services provided by WarmLine include information and referral, family support, outreach, advocacy, workshops and seminars and a resource library, according to Van Koersel, which are free of charge.
“We’re part of a statewide organization called Early Start Family Resource Centers, and are funded by the state,” Young said. “We’re only funded for (families with children) birth to 3, so that’s why the golf tournament is important.”
In Placer County, WarmLine is under the First Five grant, according to Young, which is for children from birth to 5 years old.
Young said WarmLine runs on $300,000 a year to serve six counties, which covers staffing for two offices and community parents.
“They (community parents) only work 10 hours per month, and they are the ones who do playgroups and family activities in each of our communities,” Young said.
Funds raised at the golf tournament will go toward providing resources and support for families with children over the age of 5 in Placer County and over the age of 3 in the five remaining counties, according to Young, including playgroups/activities and special education training.
“One of the big things parents ask for is special education training, and that’s a really complicated law for parents, and where they run into challenge,” Young said. “One of the things about special education is parents are part of the team, so they are a voice on the team of people that work in special ed. If they don’t come to the table informed, they are giving away their educational rights.”
Young said WarmLine’s “new mantra is to connect, inform and empower.”
“We’re connecting everyone to each other to become stronger and give a lot of information and education to become stronger,” Young said. “By connecting and informing, we’re more empowered to make decisions for ourselves.”
To ease the feeling of isolation, a lot of families with special-needs children experience, Young said, WarmLine would like to provide more playgroups and activities.
“Being a part of the community is making sure we are out there at all of the events in our community, whether it’s at the park or doing library story times, making sure people aren’t isolated,” Young said. “I think the importance (of WarmLine is that we give that peer-to-peer support, a connection to families who have shared the experience of raising a child with special needs and the information and education they need to enhance their child’s development and to advocate the services their child needs.”
Jim McCue is a community parent who has been involved with WarmLine since 2005. McCue and his family live in Folsom, and he and his wife have three children.
“When our son was diagnosed at 3 months old (in June 2005) with significant brain development issues, cerebral palsy and other complications, he was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento,” McCue said. “During his month-long stay in the hospital, we received information about the WarmLine Family Resource Center, along with some crafts for our 4-year-old daughter in a gift basket.”
After McCue’s son, who is now 8, was sent home from the hospital, McCue said his family “followed up with the WarmLine to understand resources available to us and assist us with contacting agencies and service providers.”
“We continued to keep in touch with WarmLine staff to ask questions about resources for services and support, and eventually got connected with moms’ and dad’s support group through the WarmLine,” McCue said.
McCue has volunteered on the golf tournament committee since 2009, and “more recently became a community parent in late 2012.”
“I work occasional hours planning, organizing and running meets or events for a dads’ social and support group that connects dads, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and other male role models of special-needs children,” McCue said.
Information provided by WarmLine, according to McCue, “gives families the knowledge and power to participate as advocates in the development of the medical and social health of their special kids and entire family.”
“The WarmLine has connected our family with other families with special-needs children,” McCue said. “The relationships we have established with similar families with challenges would not likely have happened without the common connection with the WarmLine.”
Heather Green, a member of the office staff at WarmLine’s Rocklin location, became involved with the nonprofit in 2001 when her daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Green also has five other children.
“At that point, I didn’t know anybody else with a special-needs child, so it was nice to talk to someone who knew what I was going through,” Green said about when she first reached out to WarmLine for help.
Green said WarmLine “provides a valuable service to the community” through inclusion and “parent-to-parent support.”
“I just had a co-worker on the phone for an hour with a family (because) the family was able to relate with someone,” Green said.
Playgroups and activities out in the community, according to Green, “focus on inclusion.”
“We invite the entire community to our events so the typical family can learn about disabilities and how to treat families with a special-needs child,” Green said. “I have five other children, so it’s nice to be able to do something with the entire family.”