I know that I’m probably not supposed to write a million blogs on my past and this blog should be more about my present life experiences. But A, I don’t see that rule anywhere in the declassified blog survival guide, and B, if I wrote my entire life up to this point in one giant blog it would be way too long and your eyeballs would be burning from staring at your computer screen all day. So hopefully I’m breaking this up into sections that make sense.
Here is a quick overview of my last few blogs. I am the sister to two awesome little brothers, both of which have Down’s syndrome. I also have a sister that is a year older than me who has Cri Du Chat syndrome. Our family lives in an old farm house in the middle of nowhere and my dad had just left his job as a pastor in a small country church to join in the wonderful world of social work. Phew, now we are up to speed!
Five years after my dad began his job at the foster care agency, the company ran into some problems. There was a young boy that was placed in a home that didn’t get the care that he deserved, and his parents’ neglect cost him his life. When a child loses his life, the news spreads like wildfire (as it probably should).
For the next few days, the company’s door was lined with state auditors in clean cut suits and press snobs waiting to film the latest gossip. After digging deep into the mountains of paperwork, the auditors uncovered some minor flaws. These flaws as well as the demeaning news posts soon led to the demise of the agency.
Living off of the savings account, God devised a plan for our survival. My dad had exceptional experience in three areas. Farming: he had been a dairy farmer for about 20 years; long before I was born. Ministry: he spent 12 years as a pastor at a small country church. And Grace: he had a heart for giving people 72 second chances, particularly to people with special needs. One of my older brothers (this was in the last couple blogs…we have two older brothers that are in their mid-thirties at this point in the story) had just finished his masters degree in business. So my dad and my brother put their heads together to make something unique.
For the next year, my dad and my brother met every Saturday morning for a cup of coffee and planned the new family business. First they looked at demand. There was only one other company in the area that offered job opportunities for people with special needs. Check one. Next, resources. We had a farm house, a few animals, and about three acres of land. Check two. Put one and two together and you get check three: differentiation. It would be a farm, it would be at our house, and it would provide job opportunities for special needs adults, flawless.
All the pieces were coming together. My brother designed the business aspects, my dad wrote the mission statement, my mom programmed the future activities, oh we also had Pearl. Pearl worked with my dad at the foster care agency. There she designed all the forms for the company (applications, emergency contacts, etc.) and researched changing regulations in the world of developmental disabilities. My dad contracted her to do the same for us. We had a business plan, we had our paperwork, and we had our mission statement: Live, laugh, love, and leave a legacy, all of which were our goals for the special needs adults, or our clients, would learn while in the program.
In the fall of 2006, our new family business was standing at the door of the business realm, days from entering. And then we tripped on the welcome mat…