A New Year of hope

Hope House is one of those special places that lives up to its name, and recently it has been the site of some happy gatherings of children and adults with special needs and disabilities.

Within the last two weeks, members of two community organizations have come together to assist, encourage and inspire those children and adults we call disabled… although to see their happy, playful artwork, parents may have to find a new description for the high spirits and talent they exhibited as they expressed themselves in new ways.

Mother’s Touch Organization, a nonprofit led by Estelle Marie Johnson Lam Yuen (Stella, to her friends) lent her support to Sandra Scanlan, head of Parents of Children with Special Needs Network (PCSN) in the joint effort.

These two extraordinary women work long hours to make sure the needs of others are met.

When asked about her relatively new ministry, Stella told Samoa News “I would like to leave this world a better place knowing that my children’s children will be growing in a God fearing community.”

She said her mission statement came from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Stella said Mother’s Touch Organization will “fully support our community in strengthening itself by utilizing our island resources with assistance from our youth.”  She noted that they stand firmly against domestic violence, sexual abuse and drug abuse.

“Mother’s Touch Organization will thrive through the development of communication, trust and love through Christ. Working together, we can achieve all things,” the leader of MTO added.

Stella first volunteered to help Sandra with the PCSN swim days at Sadie’s By the Sea, and later came to help with the art classes.

Sandy, who began the PCSN several years ago because of her own special needs daughter, told Samoa News, “Like me, Stella is only one person, and she works hard trying to encourage others to step out of their routines and be blessed in serving. We cannot do it alone, and we cannot depend on governments. We need to take over as a community and make things happen. No money needed most of the time — just a willing heart.”

Stella said that her reason for helping out came from 1Peter 4:10— “Each one should use whatever gift he has to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms.”

The two organizations joined together by spanning the Old and New Years with art classes held on Friday, December 29 and then on Friday, January 5, both in the Hope House atrium.

Leading the art class was none other than Reggie Meredith, professor of Fine Arts from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), who conducted the class with great compassion and energy, according to Scanlan.

When asked about the result of the first collaboration, Scanlan said, “We had a wonderful day.”

With 11 participants (five Hope House residents, and six from the PCSN) they also had five volunteer helpers who came to class just to help the budding artists.

Scanlan said, “We do need more helpers, as most of the participants need a one-on-one assist.”

The art lesson involved drawing ten pictures as directed by the instructor, using markers and oil pastels.

Each student then had a chance to describe their drawings and were applauded by the group. The eager art students ranged from 12 to 80 years, and according to Scanlan, they “upheld one another and had an uplifting time.”

She added, “A few of our students entertained us with songs, and there was much happy communication among the participants.”

They are looking forward to more art days at Hope House.

ABOUT PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS NETWORK

The Parents of Children with Special Needs Network is a local parent-to-parent support group for families with children with special needs (any age, any need).

We are parents helping parents and striving to create activities in our community where our children can participate with their peers, are intellectually stimulated, and enjoy the beauty of our islands.

To know more about PCSN Network, call Sandy at 731-3959 or see our FB page: PCSN American Samoa.

If you know of families with children with special needs, any age, any disability, please share these events with them.

PCSN also hosts an adapted swimming class every Thursday afternoon 2:30- 3:30 at Sadie's By The Sea Pool. Swim buddies are required.

Volunteer help is always needed and welcomed. If you have a passion for helping others, and a special concern for those who are disabled, you will always find grateful participants in these events.

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