May 13, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Brunch celebrates moms of children with special needs
The sky was gray on a May 10 afternoon, but inside Swedish/Issaquah, where a special group of moms were treated to an early Mother’s Day brunch, it was nothing but sunshine.
Look no further than Issaquah mom Kimberley Lane’s Mother’s Day card, signed lovingly by her son Brian Galbraith with the inscription “your only son-shine.”
It was just one of the many charming scenes at Life Enrichment Options’ second annual “Mother’s Brunch,” a carefree celebration of the super moms that care for children with special needs.
The gifts kept coming for Lane, who also received a potted plant Brian crafted himself at the event’s special arts-and-crafts station.
“This is awe-inspiring,” Lane said of both the brunch and LEO organization. “The entire community can benefit from seeing the similarities, not the differences, they share with these young adults.”
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Swedish/Issaquah hosted the brunch at its Café 1910 restaurant, provided volunteers and ensured the meal was free for families. The event more than tripled in size this year, thanks to the hospital’s sponsorship.
“It’s so in alignment with our mission and the work that we do, being the hospital here to serve and support our community, we wanted very much to open our doors to the organization,” said Nicole Yurchak, a business development and community relations specialist at Swedish.
While moms munched on pastries and chicken tenders, their kids crafted special Mother’s Day flowerpots courtesy of the Tavon Center. The Issaquah program helps young adults with disabilities connect with nature and the community.
Issaquah mom Debbie Arefi was all smiles as daughter Sofia handed her a potted plant of her own creation.
“This is so wonderful,” Debbie said of the brunch. “Getting to share stories and meeting other families is so special. It’s wonderful that they do this.”
LEO’s Chris Weber came up with the idea for a brunch while pouring over Mother’s Day advertisements last year. She saw special lunches and breakfasts, but understood firsthand how difficult such a setting was for families that included kids with special needs.
These moms deserved a special day out, too, within the comfort of a sensitive environment, Weber said. LEO hosted about 30 people at Blakely Hall during last year’s event. This year’s brunch attracted upward of 100 moms and families.
“It’s a place to be comfortable with your family and not have to worry about any behavior issues that your kids have,” Weber said. “It’s heartwarming just to feel you’re in like company.”
Founded in 1988, the LEO organization advocates for people with developmental disabilities in the areas of employment, housing, recreation and community education. The nonprofit was formed after a group of parents of children with developmental disabilities joined to fulfill a need within the population.
“The work that they’re doing is so incredible, so powerful and unique, and I think they need a light shined on them,” Yurchak said. “It’s an honor to be able to partner with them.”