“A Labor of Love” GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix and Career Development Center
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix/Scottsdale is a testimonial to a “Labor of Love”. Five short years ago, three young mothers who all had children with Down syndrome, dreamed of and possessed a vision to bring a GiGi’s Playhouse and GIGI U to serve the Greater Phoenix Area. Together with family members and friends, the journey began in October 2013.
The “Labor of Love” started at the 2013 Annual DS Network Buddy Walk where a booth was shared with AZ DS Network. A GiGi’s Playhouse banner was ordered, an interest form was created, and we literally “worked the streets” that day. Names were taken from families participating in the Buddy Walk who expressed an interest in the programs that GiGi’s Playhouse would offer. Enough names were gathered and interest created to push everyone forward. In less than a year, the Startup Team raised enough funds to begin the search for a location to house the Playhouse and setup operations.
Jennifer, Lesley, and Valere
Due to a “Labor of Love”, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, we celebrated the Grand Opening of GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix/Scottsdale. At that time, we had 85 families from the Greater Phoenix Area in our data base. Free purposeful programs for all age groups were offered to our new GiGi’s families and began immediately the week following the Grand Opening.
Gigi, Nancy, Jennifer and Kaitlyn – Grand Opening 2015
As each year passed, tremendous growth has been realized. Currently, GiGi’s Playhouse is serving a data base of over 535 families in the Greater Phoenix Area and adding an average of 7-8 new families per month.
This “Labor of Love” continues with the very generous support received from our Donors, Community Partners, Families, Friends and Volunteers. All programs are offered free of charge.
The next “Labor of Love” was to raise enough funds to expand operations to include a Career Development Center for our GiGi’s Adults and support a life of future independence and personal fulfillment. Our Phoenix Founder and President Emeritus, Jennifer Gage, never gave up on her vision and belief in making this happen. With her passion, focus, and pure determination to achieve this goal, the Grand Opening of the Career Development Center took place on August 25, 2018.
Jennifer, Brett, Jaquai, Hope, Kaitlyn, and The Honorable Scottsdale Mayor Lane
Grand Opening 2018
Career Development Center
What drove this passion to open a Career Development Center? “A Labor of Love”. Jennifer knew that her daughter Kaitlyn would be aging out of school in the near future and then what? An Instagram post by her daughter gives one an insight as to what our adults with Down syndrome may be thinking when their high school friends leave them behind . . . then what?
“When the bus stops coming…
Kaitlyn’s sadness and worries are real. I cannot get GiGi University open quickly enough for Kaitlyn and young adults like her. If you can, get involved. We need you! We need your time, your love and your connections to help build it and run it. . . . . . “ Kaitlyn’s Mom – Jennifer
Thanks to a “Labor of Love”, GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix/Scottsdale and the Career Development Center is now positioned to serve individuals with Down syndrome from birth through adulthood. It truly “takes a village” to support our Mission. We are so grateful to all of our Donors, GiGi’s Families, Volunteers, Community Partners, and everyone who has supported this endeavor every step of the way.
GiGi’s Volunteers and Staff
GiGi’s Mission is a “Labor of Love” ………
“To change the way the world views Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by EMPOWERING individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community”.