Volunteer Spotlight: “Who Is In Your Framily?”

We are so very grateful for Amanda Finnis, a volunteer who goes above and beyond for GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis, and of course having Amanda, Sven, Ainsley, and Taryn in the Playhouse is the “Best of All”!

Having fun delivering donations of books and supplies.

Prior to our Grand Opening, Amanda helped extensively securing in-kind & service donations through her community, including our excellent copier machine through Dave and Laura Watt of Retinal Associates of Annapolis, our beautiful “Annapolis-inspired” donor wall painted by the talented Dani Shuey, and Amanda’s clever husband Sven who helped us debug our complex office internet networking issues. Her energetic neighbor Aidan,

motivated his Boy Scout Troop to support GiGi’s, as did Ainsley’s Daisy Troop – with very successful supply drives! What wonderful connections within a neighborhood that loves Ainsley and steps up to support the Down syndrome community in tangible and intangible ways. The Finnis family and friends also generously supported our recent BrewHAHA silent and live auctions as donors and winners!

Riva 5K Team generously shares the fruits of their labor on the day of the event!

We so appreciate Amanda’s energy and positive outlook. Last month she helped organize a local charitable event, the Riva 5K Run & Walk with the proceeds benefitting GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis! In addition to the funds raised that morning, she connected an on-line book vendor to GiGi’s Playhouse who is generously donating a percentage of her sales to GiGi’s. One of the Riva 5K sponsor’s that Amanda secured, Choisser Import Auto Services, committed 10% of his sales over the next three months to be donated to GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis! Personally, Amanda also donated a portion of her Marykay sales to the Playhouse. Generosity follows generosity! Kim Eckert, President of GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis, gushes, “There is no way to overstate Amanda’s dedication to GiGi’s Playhouse. She has been instrumental in securing numerous donations, planned a successful fundraiser raising over $6,900, and brightens our days by popping in with cheesecake, pizza or a smile!”

Amanda works tirelessly, beyond her full-time teaching career and being a Mom to Ainsley & Taryn, to bring awareness to GiGi’s Playhouse and the positive impact that individuals with Down syndrome share. We appreciate Amanda! She has been known to drop in to the Playhouse with cheesecake and extra forks! What more can we say?

Amanda shared, “I am so thrilled to have a GiGi’s Playhouse right here on our doorstep. When I heard that the grand opening was coming, I felt extremely excited about the opportunity for Ainsley, my daughter to have a place that was made just for her. As a non-profit, where all services are free, I realized that there must be many loose ends that needed to be tied up.

Taryn, Amanda and Ainsley at the Riva 5K

I simply asked “how can I help?” And “what do you need?” GiGi’s Playhouse of Annapolis then shared their wants and desires. Some things we were able to help with by simply looking in our home for puzzles and toys that our girls had outgrown. The next step was a simple Facebook message sharing the needs of the Playhouse. Friends and neighbors graciously and generously responded to the call. Then there was some brainstorming and thought about who would be able to help. I contacted friends that have their own businesses and they put me in contact with more sources. Thankfully at the same time a neighbor approached me and said his boy-scout troop wanted to help also.

“I like GiGi’s because the play kitchen is fun!” Ainsley (5.5 years old)

In addition, our neighborhood hosts the Riva 5k Run Walk. The Board of Directors for the Riva 5K voted unanimously to name GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis their beneficiary this year. I could have never imagined the extreme generosity that the race experienced – the most participants ever and raising the most donations since hosting this grassroots event. We were able to donate approximately $7,000 to GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis. So many people have positive experiences with an individual with Down syndrome that they are more than happy to give.”

I am grateful and thankful that I live in a neighborhood that is my “framily”. They adore Ainsley morning, noon and night and would do anything for her. I also appreciate that they see Ainsley for who she is-Ainsley. You see, really all these donations have nothing to do with me. It’s all about Ainsley. Ainsley is love and a magical little soul.

I have discovered through this journey of parenthood that we cannot raise our children alone and we are grateful that we have a village to support and care for us.”

Ainsley’s Daisy Troop supports GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis Down syndrome Achievement Center






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  1. Cathy Fonfara on May 29, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Amanda Finnis rocks!!!! When she asked “How can I help?” and “What does the Playhouse need?”, she really meant it and went above and beyond. Thank you so much, Amanda

    P.S. I love the pic of Ainsley. She is so beautiful and adorable.

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