April and Autumn
April came to live at St. Mary’s Home in the summer of 2017. When Autumn arrived a week later and was brought in to the same room, April broke into a huge smile. She knew her sister was back by her side. The identical siblings share a genetic disorder that means they both need intensive, specialized care. They love taking part in the many activities at St. Mary’s, where they enjoy lots of opportunities for socialization while receiving diverse therapies crucial to their development.
The decision to place our daughters at St. Mary’s was extremely difficult, but we have peace of mind knowing that they are cared for so well. … We are thrilled with the great progress they’ve made. … They are doing so much better with holding their heads up and supporting themselves in a seated position with only a little help. And they both now smile regularly. I believe that’s because they’re so happy now with the constant attention they receive and the many fun activities they take part in at the home. All of the St. Mary’s staff have been wonderful. They know our family by our first names. The nurses and caregivers on the girls’ unit are amazing.
— Christina McCullough, mother of April and Autumn
Hakeim’s journey has been a rough one, from an emergency C-section birth and loss of oxygen to developmental delays and epileptic seizures. He has endured so much. His mother says St. Mary’s Home has helped give the family a fresh start and has been a major part of Hakeim’s growth and overall wellbeing. At St. Mary’s, he goes on field trips, takes swim lessons, attends Bible school and has physical therapy and occupational therapy. Plus, the Home sponsors many family get-together events and handles the many details involved in Hakeim’s care.
Being that I’m a single mother of two and full-time teacher, it wasn’t always easy to take time off whenever my son had multiple appointments or emergencies. That can make it extremely difficult to keep a job and maintain a household. At St. Mary’s, not only do they handle all appointments, but they have periodic meetings, send letters in the mail, help with school placement/meetings and make sure his diet plan is top of the line. Now I’m able to work and provide for my kids and I have peace of mind knowing that my son is safe, loved and experiences new things. As mothers, we are all hesitant when it comes to leaving our beloved child in any type of facility. As I tell many friends of mine, St. Mary’s isn’t a facility, it’s a true home. Full of people who love our babies and care to see them smile. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith and done what was best for my child. St. Mary’s provides the best care and is my absolute only choice for my son. This by far was the best decision I could have ever made for him.
— Kerri Darden, mother of Hakeim
Colton’s doctors told his mom and dad that his severe disabilities meant Colton would never do many things that other children do, like play sports, go to prom or even just write his name. At St. Mary’s Home, Colton has played wheelchair soccer, basketball and other sports. He went to prom – and was voted prom king! He also learned to spell his name, using a specialized mobile computer, as well as do so much more. Now that he’s living at The Albero House for adults, he’s become very involved in supporting the community through volunteer efforts, such as picking up litter at First Landing State Park and collecting donated items for veterans.
When I walked into St. Mary’s, there was laughter. The kids were laughing, staff were hugging and kissing on the kids. It was all unconditional love. It’s not just any group home. It’s home. It truly is home. … I’d never been able to spend time with Colton and be mom. I’ve always been the nurse. I’ve always been the caretaker. Now, somebody else is the nurse, somebody else is the caretaker. I can spend time with him and do mom stuff.
— Roxane Ward, mother of Colton