My name is Donna Buckley and I have a 30 year old son Brian with Downs Syndrome. When I first heard about GiGis Playhouse I right away thanked god for answering my prayers. As here in North Carolina there is NO PROGRAMS for older kids with Down syndrome of any kind and a program that we parents or caregivers dont have to pay for. My daughter, who is a High School Special Ed teacher had found out about this program and called me up right away to tell me about it. We both that day went down to check it out. I was blown away at what a calmly sweet and peaceful atmosphere it was. Caroline Tate who greeted us was so gentle and sweet and so kind with so much advice for us. She right away made me feel at ease about the program. I offered to pay something, anything but she insisted it was all free. My heart mind and body was just so calm and relived as we don’t have much money to give. I left there feeling so good and couldn’t wait for the programs to start.
At first, my son Brian was a little hesitant to go. As he wasn’t used to going to a program except for just going to school. We told him all about it and he was interested in going. The first day he was excited to go, but once he went he wasn’t too thrilled. You see, Brian who is a high functioning Down syndrome kid was not use to being around just all kids like himself. Going to school all those years there was only one other child like him in his classes and he wasnt use to other kids, or a bunch of kids with Downs. We talked and I asked him to stick with it and to just give it time and he agreed. Over time, he has learned so much and just loves it now. He knows what days he goes and what color shirts to wear for each day and he absolutely loves the ladies there. I cannot say enough enough about these wonderful woman who have entered my life. Kim Eyerman whom I think my son has a crush on, Jeanhee Hoffman who he thinks of as his laughing picture taking lady and Caroline Tate who always has a smile on her face every morning to be the first to greet him. Not to say that all the ladies dont have smiles on every day, my god they are so warming and loving and the smiles that radiate from there beautiful faces just lights up his and my day. Each one of them has a special place in my heart, I dont think they really know how much they truely have helped me. I prayed so many nights for God to bring me something, anything, anyone into my life to help my son to continue to enjoy his life. After he graduated from HS there wasnt anything around for my son. This program has not only changed his life, but it has changed mine as well. These ladies have together made my son whole again. And he has come back to life since high school. He adores these woman and he loves this program. He gets mad at me if we are running late because he doesn’t want to be late and make “his” girls as he calls them mad at him. He doesn’t want to miss a thing. He even loves going to speech now which he always didn’t like. He said that GiGis makes it fun to learn again. I am at awe with all of this.
I hope that North Carolina continues to provide funds for this program. It has been a answer to my and my familys prayers. I have spoken to a few of the other parents and they feel the same way as I do. These wonderful people who dont get paid a cent come to GiGis each day with such big hearts and so much love for these kids. I can go on and on about them and this playhouse but I can only end with,
My cup runs over with love and respect for everyone involved . Thank you GiGis Playhouse for making our son smile again. <3
Fondly, Donna & Jim