Have you met…Kim Neal of Reagan’s Journey
We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating! We work with the most amazing clients all over the nation! We know how fabulous all of our clients are, but we want to make sure everyone knows! To that end, this week we wanted to focus our spotlight on another stellar Woodchuck Client, Kim Neal of Reagan’s Journey.
After working with Kim on a different project, Kim came to us for website development for Reagan’s Journey, a non-profit organization she started with the mission of making life better for children with special needs. To say her mission and the work of this organization are inspirational is an understatement. We are thrilled to share just a peek inside Kim Neal’s passion for helping others and a few lessons she shares that will benefit us all!
12 Questions with Kim Neal of Reagan’s Journey
WCA: Can you tell us how Reagan’s Journey was started?
Our daughter, Reagan, was born in 2008 with multiple disabilities. Because of her conditions, traditional therapy was not successful. That led us to search for alternative therapies that proved to be very costly. Upon the realization that this therapy was successful, we began to hold fundraisers to cover the costs. Our family and community rallied around us and provisions were met. During that time, we met other families in similar situations and quickly realized that the financial burden was huge with each one. We started the process to become a nonprofit alongside a few friends so that we could begin accepting donations to support families. When this process became difficult to maintain, we searched for other ways to support families and began hosting family parties. These were highly successful in removing barriers for children to enjoy themselves and it also created friendships among the parents. The parties enabled us to have more conversations with parents about durable medical equipment and the need for a Lending Closet was born. Our mission is to make life better for children with special needs.
WCA: On days when you just don’t want to get out of bed, what is the one story/thing that you remember that motivates you?
A caregiver’s burden…I know all too well how hard it is to manage appointments, therapies, and educational supports. This is all in addition to caring for other members of the family AND often holding down a job. If I can lift a caregiver’s burden even a little bit, that motivates me.
WCA: What is the number one thing you want to share with people who may not know what it’s like to raise a child with special needs?
Many people are under the impression that when a child is diagnosed all of their needs are met regarding equipment and therapies. The reality is that parents must bear the burden of scheduling and advocating for every need their child has. It is not only physically exhausting but also emotionally exhausting as you look toward the future and know that what you’ve done or didn’t do in those early days shapes the adult they eventually become.
WCA: If you could have an entire day to yourself, what would you choose to do?
That’s easy…I love to cozy up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and scroll Facebook while watching a classic chick flick movie.
WCA: What is one small thing that someone could do today that might help or encourage a family of a child with special needs?
Preparing dinner and delivering it to a family is a great option or even simply stopping by with a gift of a fuzzy blanket or a cup of coffee. Those families are busy, so just dropping an item off discreetly at their door is a perfect way to encourage them.
WCA: What piece of advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Trust in who God has made you to be. Also, to find joy in the journey and be willing to take risks every day.
WCA: What is the best resource you could share with our clients who have a child or family member with special needs?
There is an organization called Variety the Children’s Charity and they have sites all over the US. Their website is usvariety.org. We have attended their amazing family events and have benefitted from their program that gifts adaptive tricycles, ipads, and adaptive strollers to families who fall within their income guidelines and provide necessary paperwork.
WCA: Can you describe what Reagan’s Journey Lending Closet is and how the idea was started?
While on our own journey with our child with special needs, we learned that most families like ours have equipment lying around in their basement, shed, or garage that their child has outgrown and that likely cost upwards of $5,000 a piece. It is difficult to find an organization that will take these items back because they are used. No one wants to see this equipment tossed into the trash because it has so much potential to help another family, but it is difficult to store and re-home. That’s where we come in. We have the capacity to take in these pediatric items and help re-distribute them into the hands of children that do not have insurance that will cover an item or the necessary funds to purchase out of pocket. We do that through our Facebook Group, Reagan’s Journey Lending Closet. The pieces of equipment and medical supplies are posted within albums in the group. Parents are able to click on the album they are interested in to see which items are available. We carry standers, walkers, wheelchairs, feeding supplies, incontinence supplies, and special seating devices. We just celebrated 2 years of operation and have met so many amazing parents and children!
WCA: What is the biggest misconception that people have about raising a child with special needs?
I think the biggest misconception is that our children with special needs are a burden. They are in fact a blessing and most families if given the choice, would choose to travel this difficult road again because of how much their children have helped forge them into a better person for having known them. My daughter helps me to have a better perspective on everything and she never gives up.
WCA: What is your favorite quote?
“Sometimes fear does not subside and you must do it afraid.” -Elizabeth Elliot
WCA: What is one thing you hope our clients would take away from your story?
That there is much to be done in the area of creating a better world for children with special needs and their families. If you get the chance to help just one, step out of your comfort zone and make a difference for that one.
WCA: What haven’t we asked that you want people to know?
How can you give to our mission to make life better for children with special needs? A: Keep sharing about who we are and what we do. Visit our site to learn more. Consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us continue our mission.
We SO appreciate the time Kim took from her busy schedule to share a little piece of her world with us! We value her great works and encourage you to follow her important advice! Find joy in your journey and be willing to take risks every day!