health care,
education and
social services

health care,
education  and
social services

Mary's Center Gave Her Help and Hope

Veronica says Mary’s Center’s Early Intervention Program for Children with Special Needs was a godsend, giving her hope and connecting her and her precious son to the services they desperately needed when no one else seemed able to help.

Veronica arrived in the US in October 2013, pregnant and alone, fleeing gang violence in El Salvador. Although her future was uncertain, she was excited about having her baby. Edison was born a month later, but Veronica was confused when the doctors told her that her baby had spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord don’t develop or close properly. “They showed me the ball on his back. He had been facing up in all the sonograms and we never saw it.”

Just 3 hours after he was born, Edison was taken to a more specialized children’s hospital. Three days later he was discharged and handed over to his mother, who didn’t know what to do next. To make matters worse, she had to move out of the room where she was staying, because she couldn’t work and couldn’t afford to pay the rent.

She tried to find help, but couldn’t get the support she needed. “I went to so many organizations and all they did was give me paperwork or numbers to call. That’s it.”

Then she heard about Mary’s Center’s Early Intervention program, where she met a person she describes as “an angel.” The Dedicated Service Coordinator – who also happened to be called Veronica – helped her to get insurance; physical, occupational and speech therapy; and a small car to take Edison to his appointments and to hospital for the multiple surgeries he needed. Veronica was also referred to an agency that helped her secure a Section 8 voucher for housing.

Edison

She is very grateful for the help she has received, including warm clothes, turkeys and toys for her son during Mary’s Center’s coat and Thanksgiving and toy drives.

Veronica is delighted with the progress Edison is making. “When Edison was born, the doctors told me he would never be able to move, crawl or walk, but Mary’s Center helped me to get prosthetic braces and special orthotic shoes with double-soles for him, since one leg is shorter than the other, and now he is able to walk. He can walk one whole block before he gets tired.”

She has also benefited greatly from the encouragement she received from Berta Mata, who came to the center for help when her own son was diagnosed with special needs and who is now an advocate for other families and a Mary’s Center Board Member.

Life is still challenging for the young family. For example, Edison has recently developed epilepsy. Veronica is strengthened by the fact that the Mary’s Center team, including Edison’s caring pediatrician Dr. Anne Carpinelli, is there to support her and to help manage his condition.

Edison also needs 22 diapers a day, which gets very expensive. But now that Mary’s Center has helped Edison get a place at Easter Seals Child Development Center, a specialized day care, Veronica plans to start taking English classes at Briya Public Charter School, Mary’s Center’s education partner. She is determined to build a better future for herself and her son.

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