From the Heart of the Playhouse

Lizz Maxwell, our Site Coordinator, shares this incredible story:

Donna walked through the doors one day a few weeks ago, drawn in by the beautiful children on the windows and the colorful sign that read “achievement center”. After our introductions, she shared with me her desire to volunteer here. She said she was drawn to this place for some reason and would be willing to help in whatever way was needed. I shared with her all about GiGi’s Playhouse and the amazing moments that take place here. Donna started to share a story from her childhood. She said when she was young, family friends of theirs would come over to her house to swim in their pool. She said she remembered the family had a little girl with Down syndrome who loved to climb up on the diving board of their pool. Donna retells the story with a big smile, “Oh how she loved the diving board. My father yelled out to her one time, ‘Amy! Please get off the diving board!’ and there she went into the pool! She just loved…” I stopped Donna at this moment and asked her if she remembered what Amy’s last name was. “I sure do! Amy Smith!” she exclaims and went on to talk about what a delight Amy was in her life and how they lost touch over the years. I was bursting at the seams at this point. I excitedly told Donna, “Well, you’re in for quite a shock today. Amy is our intern here at GiGi’s and she’s actually over in our Education Station right now organizing the puzzles!” Needless to say, the reunion between these old friends moved me to tears. They embraced, then sat and reminisced, sharing laughter over the pool story. To see Amy’s face light up as these memories came flooding back was truly a sight to see.

As I sit here in my office today, they are relaxing on the couch, sharing pictures of their families and reading through some fun memes. The best part? Donna is now looking forward to continuing her visits with Amy here and helping her hone her reading skills. Stories like this are why I am so thankful for GiGi’s Playhouse. This is just one example of what motivates me to continue serving this amazing community.

I think we all know exactly why Donna was drawn here that day…



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  1. Richard Reilly on July 27, 2017 at 7:56 am

    “Amy, please get off the diving board !” Our population with Down syndrome want to jump off and feel the freedom of buoyancy. GiGi’s Playhouse is a place where the individual hones the skills to make that leap and experience independence. And now we have GiGi University! GiGi’s is that place, too, where parents can practice the concept of “letting go”. Liz, Donna, Amy, you are each touching lives in an important way. Big Love! Richard Reilly – The Grandparent Connection.

  2. Clare Mitchell on August 2, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Beautiful story!

  3. Rhonda on August 30, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I love this story! And, hope to meet Amy and Donna someday at GiGi’s when visiting with my grandson, Caden! We love GiGi’s, Lizz and all the volunteers and programs available!

  4. AMY SMITH on December 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    thanks for the i love the story of amy and donna LIZZ GOOD FRIEND TOME

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