When Nicholas was born in August of 1988, we thought he was perfectly healthy and normal - except perhaps for the fact that he was premature and weighed under four pounds. It was five months later, after several trips to the emergency room for dehydration due to Nick's inability to suck and swallow that we received the news that all of our baby's symptoms were due to a neurological injury of some sort. Soon, I began to gather information about cerebral palsy and the various associations in our city that could help Nick and our family.
One of those organizations was the Ottawa Rotary Home. The Rotary Home offered 21 nights of respite for children with disabilities. Many of the children served by the home had very complex conditions and some had difficult behaviours. All were loved and cared for by highly trained staff in a homey, cheerful environment. When I talk about the early days of using Rotary for respite, I find it hard not to cry. In those days, Nicholas cried and cried. He screamed and cried - once for 37 hours in a row. Jim and I were so sleep deprived that one day, I locked the keys in the car three times in one day - with the car running! We were exhausted, desperately loving our baby, but afraid that we could not keep up with his complex needs.
Fast forward to last Saturday, June 30. Nicholas now lives in the new Rotary Home adult house and for us, the Home still embodies the message on their logo - "Keeping families strong - helping them together". Our family is strong because we love one another. We are together because we had blessed sleep for 21 nights a year in the early days and more recently, a place for Nick to call his own home when we became too old to look after our beloved son and no other facility in the city would accept him. Last Saturday, Rotary Home celebrated its 30th anniversary and of course, we helped with the celebrations!
Here is Nicholas with me and Member of Parliament for Ottawa South, David McGuinty.
We are grateful for the Ottawa Rotary Home, then and now. Happy Birthday to our community heroes - everyone at Rotary!