Since the age of 3, Gunner has been living with optic nerve glioma, a form of brain tumor that forms around the optic nerve, which connects the eyes to the brain. It causes significant vision impairment and other challenges.
Sometimes the right experience, in the right environment, can lead to a breathtaking outcome. Meet Amber. When we first welcomed her into the Discovery School preschool program for 2017-2018, she seemed withdrawn, uncommunicative and reluctant to try new things. She’d spend a typical day watching and playing alone, pointing at things when she had a need, but otherwise just drifting.
An ambitious young man, Latroy has goals––and two of them involve the food service industry. According to Jan Ward, Job Developer at Hope Haven, Latroy wants to become a chef and own his own restaurant someday. This is not idle dreaming. He’s working hard to learn the business, and he’s making serious progress.
J.R. is a June 2014 graduate of Hope Academy – Project SEARCH. Based on J.R.’s skills and personality, Hope Academy staff helped J.R. get a job with Big Chief Tire. Through Hope Academy – Project SEARCH interns like J.R. learn employability and job skills in three, 9-week internships at a host business.
When Hannah was diagnosed with Down syndrome and fetal hydrops in utero, her parents were told she would not survive. Miraculously, against the odds, Hannah lived. As she grew, it became difficult for her parents to find a facility that offered all the services this special little girl required. That is, until they were referred to our Down Syndrome Center. Thanks to Hope Haven, today Hannah is a happy, thriving toddler.
What do you say to your eight-year-old child who has lost the ability to walk or stand? How do you create hope for him, and for your family, when there are few answers to help you formulate a realistic plan for his future?
When Will first came to Hope Haven Children’s Clinic and Family Center four years ago, his parents Bill and Blake were looking for just that—a plan. Not a magic wand or even a cure. Just a realistic plan to help their son, Will, live a happy, confident, loving and secure life.
Ema Zapata was born on September 4, 2014 with Down syndrome. Her parents, Ramόn and MailÍn have been steadfast in their determination to give Ema the best life possible.
The Zapatas, like more than 5,000 other families in our community, rely on the services provided by Hope Haven. Please be a part of their plan for a brighter future by giving generously at the link below today. With your generosity, we will ensure that every child or young adult has a rich life; unrestricted by whatever physical or developmental barriers they may face.
In spring of 2016, Chante graduated from Hope Haven’s Project SEARCH; a highly successful job skills and internship program for young adults with special needs.
Empowered by her new sense of self-sufficiency she asked to volunteer in Hope Haven’s FAAST program so that she could strengthen her computer skills. With these tools in place, she finally felt confident enough to her GED and her driver’s license.
Ready for independence, she and her Employment Services guide from Hope Haven found the perfect fit: a job at Fort Caroline Garden’s Nursing Home that she loves and where they are extremely happy to have her bright personality and excellent work ethic on their team. Joy Golden says, “Chante is a great asset to our team. She follows directions well and is very attentive to the residents. We are lucky to have her.”
Nala’s mom, Erna, had only been to Hope Haven for Nala’s speech therapy, but when Nala was diagnosed with leukemia Terri, Hope Haven’s Director of Education came to the hospital with books and activities for Nala. During the long hours of treatment Terri’s visits gave the parents time to breathe and Nala something to look forward to.
Because chemotherapy reduces the immune’s system’s ability to fight germs, Nala’s mom was terrified to put her back in her old daycare. Erna, a self-proclaimed neat freak, was simply going to keep her at home for the one to two years that treatment would take. Terri assured her that because of our small school setting Hope Haven is able to clean at a much higher rate and the teachers are able to monitor the students closely. And for Nala, the ability to go to school means normalcy; a place where she isn’t “sick”, she’s just a kid.
Erna decided to start with Hope Haven’s summer camp and see how it went. Nala was so happy to be with new friends and loved coming so much each day that mom realized she could finally relax. She enrolled her in Hope Haven’s Discovery School. Now, five months later, Nala is learning at a rate her mother can’t believe and her personality has blossomed. She is talking more and saying please and thank you. “For the first time in 4 years I finally feel like I have a team that helps me care for her,” says Erna. “It’s all the little things that matter, and bringing Nala to Hope Haven was the best decision ever.”
It was In the late 1990s when Ryan’s mother saw an article in a women’s magazine about how the original Project Search started in a hospital in the Midwest.
“I immediately though Ryan could do that. I tore the article out and saved it in a file. I don’t believe in coincidences,” according to Ryan’s mother.
When Ryan was about to graduate from Alden Rd in 2008, an article came out in the paper about Hope Haven starting a Project Search program here in Jacksonville. Ryan’s mother immediately found out how to get her son involved. We were able to secure a spot in that first class and the rest is history!
“We were able to secure a spot in that first class and the rest is history!”
Following Project Search, Hope Haven helped Ryan find employment. Because of Project Search, Ryan will celebrate his eighth year of working part time at the Public Defender’s Office in Jacksonville this summer.
Ryan is responsible for sorting and delivering the mail twice during his three-hour shift, five days a week, in the very busy six-story building where about 120 lawyers and staff people work.
He had a job coach from Hope Haven for about a year or two but once he learned the ropes, his job coach bowed out as she said Ryan could handle it himself. His coworkers have embraced Ryan and helped him every step of the way.
“We will be forever grateful to the many people from Hope Haven, Project Search, and the Public Defender’s Office for giving Ryan a chance to show what a valuable employee he can be,” stated Ryan’s mother.