For over ten years, Family Hope Foundation has been bringing hope to families and building a community where children are given the chance to reach their highest potential.
Each year we provide scholarships to a growing number of families thanks to the support of our generous donors. Scholarships provide financial support to families and are the “gift of ability” for the children who receive them.
“At four months of age, Ruby was diagnosed as hypotonic, and an MRI two months later showed microcephaly (an abnormally small head) and Leukoencephalopathy (decreased white matter in the brain).
In the ensuing months and years, we have pursued numerous neurological, ophthalmological, physical, and genetic evaluations and tests. The doctors have not yet provided a definitive answer as to the cause of Ruby’s delays and impairments, though she did receive a recent diagnosis of hypotonic cerebral palsy from a neurologist.
In order to help Ruby advance and build up her strength, we enrolled her into Senses In Motion with René Manker. She receives the Anat Baniel Method (ABM) of therapy. This therapy treats Ruby’s whole body as an interconnected system and incorporates the brain to stimulate new learning.
Due to ABM therapy, Ruby has grown much more adept at engaging with the world around her and more purposeful in her exploration of it. Her skills have grown, along with her comfort.
This kind of therapy is not covered by insurance, so René recommended that we apply for a scholarship through Family Hope Foundation. With a scholarship, Ruby was able to continue to receive therapy and some of the financial burden was lifted off of us.”
“Parker Ann was a happy baby, though she wasn’t meeting the typical milestones of sitting up, rolling over, and crawling. At ten months old, she was officially diagnosed with Agenesis of Corpus Callosum (ACC). In Parker Ann’s brain, the corpus callosum, which connects the two cerebral hemispheres, is absent. Because of this, her motor, sensory, and cognitive growth are delayed.
We were determined to help Parker, so we enrolled her in the conductive education program. We noticed incredible improvement in just four weeks! In addition to conductive education, Parker Ann also saw speech, physical, and occupational therapies.
As with many therapies, conductive education isn’t covered by insurance. We were thankful to learn about Family Hope Foundation. With the help of a scholarship, Parker Ann was able to continue the treatment that was making an impact. Parker Ann can now sit, roll, crawl, walk ten feet independently, and follow simple instructions! The Family Hope Foundation scholarship was truly a blessing.”
Marissa is a girl on the move. She loves going places…museums, camping, parks, and any place with a Merry-Go-Round. If it were up to Marissa, she would have plans booked for every weekend. It is her confident and adventurous spirit that drives her to learn and study subjects ranging from the human body to the history behind carousels.
With her high energy and ability to self-entertain, it was not until Marissa was four that her parents could tell that some things were not adding up in her development. She did not like loud sounds, although, she herself, would squeal loudly all the time. She was not interested in other kids and rarely played with others. It was in preschool that the Nolte’s knew that Marissa needed to be examined. It was at BRAINS in Grand Rapids that Marissa was diagnosed with autism.
Marissa received Occupational Therapy through the Center for Childhood Development, where she worked on large muscle and fine motor skills. Due to struggles between Marissa interacting with her brother, it was recommended that she have Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy. ABA therapy uses systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures to teach functional life skills, communication skills, and/or social skills. Thanks to a scholarship from Family Hope Foundation, the Nolte’s were able to affordably obtain this treatment for Marissa.
For over a year, Marissa has been doing in-home ABA Therapy, and it has done amazing things! Prior to this, Marissa could not be left alone in a room with her younger brother because if he made a sound she did not like or had a toy she wanted, she would become physically aggressive with him. Thanks to therapy, Marissa is learning how to use her words to handle a situation. Now, Marissa will even ask her brother to play and will push him on the swing. These are no little things. These are huge things for the Nolte family.
On the carrousel of life, the Nolte’s have experienced their ups and downs and going around in circles, but they never gave up. They were dedicated to finding the solutions that would help their family. Paired with the right therapy, and the support of Family Hope Foundation, they have seen breakthrough. It is with excitement that Marissa and her family embark on the next adventure together.
At age five, Eliana flew from Ghana to live in Michigan with her new family. Her nickname, which she prefers, is Kosie. It is similar to her Ghanaian name, Akos. The meaning of the name Eliana is “God has answered.” To her parents, Eliana Akos Wetters is indeed an answered prayer. She has filled their home with joy and brightens a room with her smile.
Since day one, Kosie has had plenty of energy. She loves to swim, take walks, and dance to music. Disability has never made her unable! She takes in life to the fullest with her vibrant personality, a blend of sassy and oh-so-sweet. Being “non-verbal” doesn’t hinder her from self-expression.
While the Wetters knew Kosie’s original diagnoses of cerebral palsy and microcephaly at age five, they didn’t quite know the depth. After Kosie was settled at home, they were able to set up appointments for therapy and treatment in order to help Kosie continue to learn and progress.
Her pediatric neurologist suggested hippotherapy, which is the use of horseback riding as a rehabilitative treatment for improving coordination, balance, and strength. Most parents of children with special needs can attest that therapy comes at a cost and some therapies, like hippotherapy, are not covered under insurance. That is why a scholarship from Family Hope Foundation was a wonderful gift to Kosie. She was able to go to Renew Therapeutic Riding Center where she’s ridden—Dailee and Honey—the past couple of years. Not only does Kosie love riding, but it has also strengthened her core and taught her new things.
Eliana Akos is now 9 ½ years old. She is doing great and growing like crazy. In this, we see yet again, the truth of her name.
We all have something to say. We all have our own way of saying it. And that is beautiful. That makes the world a better, more diverse place.
In December 2016, another voice entered the world. It belonged to Theo. As a baby, he enjoyed sharing his opinion with bright and affectionate sounds. After his first birthday, those sounds slowly formed into words. Into his toddler years, his parents noticed that Theo had a stutter when he spoke.
This past summer, Theo watched himself on a video and said, “I don’t talk so good.” While his parents had concerns about his speech before then, when Theo noticed the difference himself and thought negatively about it, they knew it was time to get help. At the Center for Childhood Development, Theo was diagnosed with a speech disability. Hannah Pettinga and Elise Dirkse have supported Theo and helped him learn new strategies in speech and have even taught his parents how to use visual cues to help Theo stretch out his words or slow down. With the help of a scholarship from Family Hope Foundation, Theo continues his therapy appointments and has made progress, meeting some of his personal goals. He also gets speech services through Jenison Public Schools.
It might take him longer to say what he wants to say, especially if he’s excited, but he has learned to let others know that they need to stop and listen to him. Recently, he said to his aunt, “I have something important to tell you.”
Theo has learned that it is okay to have a speech disability and not to be embarrassed about it. It is part of who he is. Just like his love of music, drawing, riding bikes, exploring nature, and playing with Legos. His speech is a part of his voice, his personality, his self-expression. It’s not something that needs to be “fixed” or “overcome”. He simply desires to be able to share his full thoughts. Because Theo is a thinker. He likes to discuss important things. He notices and cares about how others are feeling. It is his empathetic heart that wants to connect with others.
We live in a diverse world, with diverse voices, that need to be heard and celebrated.
“Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager with spina bifida has its share of unique challenges. When Gramm was little, it was exciting to see his independence and skills grow . . . to take those first few steps, to use a walker, to walk with single pole canes. Now, as a growing teenager, the “gains” aren’t quite so visible, but the intensive physical therapy he receives is even MORE valuable.
As Gramm grows taller and heavier, his body is constantly “relearning” how to balance and walk. We work hard at physical therapy to keep his level of strength greater than what he currently needs so that when his growth spurt hits, his abilities don’t change and independence isn’t lost.
As a teen, Gramm is still walking with single pole canes. A blessing to be sure, and one Family Hope Foundation has had a hand in creating. Thank you for the scholarship that allows us to continue Gramm’s hard work at 1+1 Therapy, keeping Gramm as independent and healthy as possible.
Thank you for sticking with us through these trying teenage years!”
“Thank you will never do justice to express our sincere gratitude for blessing James with this scholarship. We wanted to use the scholarship to enable James to learn sign language so he has a way to communicate once he loses his hearing. It is important to equip my son for his future. I never want his world to feel so shaken or challenging that he doesn’t have a means to communicate or to have a voice. With his hearing loss, even with the use of hearing aids, there will be so many environments where they will not help.
We don’t want James left in the quiet and confusion, unable to communicate with anyone, even mom and dad. Learning sign language as our family’s second language, we can always be there to communicate with him.
We will forever be grateful for this gift, and we hope that with a new way of communication, we will also be able to give back in the future within the deaf and special needs communities.
Without this scholarship, we would not be able to afford the therapy to learn sign language. We would be left with the alternative: quiet, confusion, and a shaken world for James. This scholarship is giving our child and family the ability to communicate. That is why ‘thank you’ will never be sufficient.“
Invest in a child’s potential by making a donation today!
Sign up for our Newsletter.
Every month, Family Hope Foundation’s team connects by sharing family stories, providing educational information, demonstrating ways to get involved, and more! Join us and see how the Gift of Ability helps bring hope to your community.