The Possible Dream Foundation
Run by Camille Geraldi, a pediatric nurse, and her husband Mike, a pediatrician, this isn't an institution by any stretch of the imagination. They have made a home for children that no one else could or would take care of.
Years ago when I worked for them, it was called The Up With Down Syndrome Foundation because when they started, all of the children they took had Down Syndrome. As they grew and expanded, taking in more and more children, the name no longer fit. So it changed as they had.
Working there was the most influential time period of my adult life. For the first time, I spent significant portions of each day with people who had much more severe problems than I did. Working with them, helping to teach them the most basic things in life, made me realize for the first time in my life, exactly how lucky I was that my disability was such a minor one. More than anyone else, those children taught what courage in the face of adversity really means.
Camille is who I want to be when I grow up :) She has the biggest, most giving heart of anyone I've ever met. Love for these children that society terms as "lesser" because of their extensive problems (many of which even make them look abnormal to outsiders) pours out of her.
I don't know how she does it. From the day I first set foot in their homes (Just about a month after Hurricane Andrew), she has been an inspiration to me. She taught me to keep a leash on my terrible temper when faced with verbal and physical prejudice. After all, as "Mom" to that many special needs kids, she knew first hand how it felt.
Check out their website if you have a chance.
The Wounded Warrior Project
I have to confess that I don't know a ton about this group, but what I do know is amazing.
I first heard about them from Celebrity Apprentice when Piers Morgan chose them as his charity that he earned money for. It is a group that:
To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured
service men and women,
To help severely injured service members aid and assist each other, and
To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members.
Considering how long our country has been involved in one violent conflict or another, and how often our service men and women are injured, it is a wonderful and needed group.
When working at The O'Callaghan Hotel in Annapolis, MD, I was lucky enough to be the night supervisor when a bunch of them came to town and stayed at our hotel. We stayed up late (well, they did, but my job was to stay up all night) talking about our disabilities. Most of them were missing a leg. They said that was much more common than a missing arm in the service sincemost loss-of-limb injuries were caused by mines.
I was amazed at how well-adjusted these men (because all the ones I met were men) were. None of the terror and lost feeling that used to show in this guy I knew in high school. He lost his arm in a drunk driving accident and ended up killing himself because he couldn't adjust.
Anyway, two admirable groups that should get more notice and acclaim than they do. (Sorry but no pics this time.)