Monday, March 27, 2017

Youth Learn Leadership Skills

Youth Learn Leadership Skills
By: Patty Hooper

Upon entering the room, all one could see was youth wrestling with cardboard and duct tape, while laughing and collaborating. It might look like the youth were just joking and playing around, but they were actually learning important leadership skills, like cooperation and problem solving. Their challenge was to work cooperatively to build a structure that at least one youth could fit into. These youth are part of a program Family Matters started in the Fall called Speak Up! Self-advocacy Training Program.
Speak Up! is a training program that staff at Family Matters adapted to teach youth and young adults with disabilities self-advocacy skills. We have worked on cooperation, communication, and social skills, all while having fun. We have discussed how to stand up for oneself without being aggressive and how to deal with having a disability in school and the workplace.
Family Matters applied for a grant from the Siemer Foundation, which was providing funding to organizations to teach youth and young adults leadership and entrepreneurial skills. The Family Matters grant proposal, stated that all students need chances to learn leadership skills, but often those with disabilities are left out of many such opportunities at school because of their disabilities. We stated that though students with disabilities often struggle with these skills, they can learn with the right opportunities and training. Our grant proposal was accepted and we were awarded $5,000 for the yearlong project.
Our group meets monthly where we take part in a variety of activities. Along with these meetings, we have many more things in store, including a mini-conference with speakers about inclusion and participation in our state’s legislative breakfast in Springfield. At Family Matters, we know that those with disabilities have a lot to offer and contribute to their communities. We hope that through this program, the youth participants will learn more about their strengths and how to use them to participate fully in school and the community.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our 3rd Annual Bowl-A-Thon was a Success!

3rd Annual "Team Up for Children with Disabilities" Bowl-A-Thon a Success!

Over $6,500 Raised!

 There is still time to "Team Up for Children with Disabilities". If you missed this event, you can make an online donation at

Charlotte's Strike Here goes Zoie Kellen Ehrenhardt and family

The aBengers  Turkey Winner at the Bowlathon resized for website Washington Kingpins2 

The Sanders family BowlingJim Einhorn BowlingSilly Patty and Karrie at Bowlathon Photobooth
Little boy bowling

A special thanks to all our bowlers,  those who supported the bowlers, our event committee members, and all the community members who contributed to this fundraiser. All of you were essential to our success and your participation was so important to us!

Thank you to all our active committee members for your gifts of time, creativity, and determination!
Audrey Haney (chair)
Teresa Parks
Deb Fornoff
Emily Chetty
Teri Ehrenhardt
Charlotte Cronin

A special thank you to Audrey Haney for organizing the Bowl-A-Thon. Family Matters is grateful and indebted to Audrey for giving so freely of her time and locating resources and donors who made the Bowl-A-Thon a successful fundraiser.

We also want to thank our Ambassador Families:
The Nauman Family and The Sanders Family

The Nauman Family
Nauman family
"Since welcoming our daughter Charlotte in 2010 we have utilized countless workshops sponsored by Family Matters. Their passionate staff have provided us with education on topics ranging from behavior to transition, school, family and everything in between. We have always been able to count on the workshops, resources, and support to provide us with the tools we need to set Charlotte up for success in all areas of her life. The gift of knowledge that Family Matters has given us the past six years is priceless and we look forward to more top-notch trainings in the future!" ~Nauman family ~

The Sanders Family
Sanders Family

"I first contacted Family Matters in 2015, when my son, Sebastian, was in kindergarten. I didn’t know much about autism at the time. I was overwhelmed and I did not know which way to go. I was so excited when Patty Hooper called me back! I finally found a person who understood what I was going through, another parent just like me. She had so much experience navigating the special needs journey! I have contacted her multiple times and she helped me get familiar with legislation, with the school system, and she also had first-hand experience with a child with autism! I feel like I have a guide for the next steps along our journey and that takes a lot of stress off of me. Family Matters gave me the tools and the knowledge needed to help my son. I feel like I became a strong advocate for my son with the knowledge I gained.  But, most importantly, I learned to see strength instead of weakness, to see an opportunity instead of a challenge, to see ability instead of disability, and to see the value of each person no matter what their level of ability may be. Family Matters gave me a different perspective from their years of experience."
 ~Sanders Family~


A Big Thank You to All of Our Sponsors:

Casual Day Fundraiser

Our Lane Sponsors:
Our T-Shirt Sponsors
Our In-Kind Donors
  • Charlotte Cronin
  • Embassy Suites/Graham Mullett
  • Family Benefit Solutions/Sherri Schneider
  • Deb Fornoff
  • Rachel Martin
  • Emily Chetty
  • Teresa Parks
  • Beth McConnell
  • Debbie Einhorn
  • Karrie Potter
  • Nancy Mader