At 10 months old, "Lola's" mom no longer recognized her. Lola’s parents were in a severe car accident when she was just 10 months old. Both survived, but it was Lola’s mom who suffered brain injuries. Her speech was affected, and she had extreme memory loss. She no longer recognized her daughter and could not provide the affection that Lola desperately needed. Lola’s dad lost his job trying to balance the full-time care for his wife, and they soon ended up homeless. Then MountainStar entered their lives. Our interventionists stood with them as the family was forced to adjust to their new reality. We provided as many resources as possible – diapers, food boxes, gas cards, grocery gift cards – and embraced Lola, surrounding her with love to help heal the neglect she had experienced. As of today, Lola’s mom has regained her memory and speech. Lola’s father found steady work and safe housing for their family. And Lola is doing great. You can find her at MountainStar dancing in circles. She loves music, playing with instruments, and engaging with her peers.
“Sam” struggled in a shifting household and inconsistent care. Sam’s home environment was extremely unstable. He was cared for by his dad and stepmom, with his mom out of the picture struggling with addiction. His father worked multiple jobs and his stepmother was raising three other children. Sam was getting lost in the mix and began having trouble regulating his emotions and setting boundaries. When his dad and stepmom separated, things got even harder. Fortunately, Sam’s mom was in full recovery and he was able to move in with her. Despite this positive transition, Sam still struggled. When Sam arrived at MountainStar, interventionists immediately responded by setting clear boundaries and working on breathing exercises to help regulate his emotions. Sam’s mom was referred to mental health services, coaching her on techniques to support Sam’s behavior. Sam’s mom immediately recognized the impact of MountainStar’s program and started to increase her involvement in-home visits and at family nights. Over the past year, Sam has gone through incredible change. He has become a helper in class, self-regulates, and is better prepared for kindergarten.
Amanda arrived for a home visit with a family she works with through MountainStar’s Relief Nursery program and she found 2 ½-year-old Danielle coloring all over the walls. Mom, Rachelle, didn’t seem bothered by it at all. Amanda saw a learning opportunity and kindly reminded mom that rebellious behavior like that should be re-directed into something more positive. Thirty-five-year-old Rachelle flew into a child-like tantrum, sobbing and yelling angrily. Little Danielle tried to comfort her mother but she was pushed away, triggering another tantrum. In the middle of that chaos, Rob arrived home to join in the home visit. Dad was able to calm both of them down and Amanda gently guided the family through the remainder of the visit.
“It’s really like Rob is constantly parenting three children – Danielle, her brother Colby, and his wife,” Amanda said. “Rachelle is developmentally delayed; she operates at the level of a fifteen-year-old.” Rob is patient, reasonable, and kind with all three of them. He is also a great advocate for them and has an optimistic attitude toward goals despite all the challenges his family faces. They don’t have a phone, a computer, or a car. When they first came to MountainStar, baby Danielle had health problems, but no insurance. Amanda helped order a social security card and birth certificate, submit paperwork to obtain insurance, and set doctor appointments – but credits Rob: “He was there every step of the way doing all the work. He walked her to every doctor’s visit. He walks Danielle and Colby to school, and then walks across town to get groceries and apply for jobs.”
The family has been involved for years in therapeutic classes and Rob brings Danielle and Colby to every single family activity night. It is inspiring to see him get down on their level, playing with them joyfully. His kids benefit greatly from his ability to set aside all their struggles and enjoy being a dad. Recently Amanda has started talking with him about self-care, making sure he doesn’t burn out so he can continue being a positive parent to his kids. She said Rob is working on it, and she’s impressed by his perseverance. “Without dad, these kids would have been taken away by DHS a long time ago,” said Amanda, “He is the glue holding this family together.”