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June 03, 1994 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-06-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Needs Re-toga ed As
Keshet

LESLEY PEARL STAFF WRITER

Offering needed

support to

developmentally

disabled

children and

their families.

ike most 7-year-olds, Molly Gri-
er has been known to exhaust her
mother, Ronelle.
But Molly isn't exactly like
most 7-year-olds;And without
her presence in this world, one
organization might not exist in
Detroit.
Molly has undiagnosed de-
velopmental disabilities. Doc-
tors do not have a name for
Molly's motor impair-
ments and lack of agili-
ty. They don't know
her potential, either.
"Sometimes she's like 'the
rain man,' " Ms. Grier said.
"There's these things Molly
can't do. But then she has this
photographic memory. It
amazes me."
When Molly was younger,
Ms. Grier often found it frus-
trating to be around "nor-
mar parents and children.
She felt isolated, that no one
understood her problems.
For the most part, no one
did.
Ms. Grier joined a sup-
port group for parents of
children with special
needs but felt a bit like "a
fish out of water when
they had Christmas par-
ties and scheduled meetings on
Rosh Hashanah."
Molly Grier: Impetus for Keshet's Detroit formation.
While reading Exceptional
Parent magazine, Ms: Grier came
across an ad for Keshet (Hebrew part-time paid staff position, an cation recently formed a task
for rainbow), a Chicago-based or- office in Southfield and the stat- force to study needs of the popu-
ganization for Jewish families ed goals of information, advoca- lation.
Programming continues on the
with special needs. She called the cy and support for all Jewish
level
of a facilitated support
families
with
special
needs.
number listed only to discover De-
Ms. Grier was the first paid group, monthly speakers and a
troit had no chapter. The execu-
tive director offered to help Ms. staffer — executive director. She
turned the reins over to Sharon
Grier get started.
"If rd have known what it in- Levine in December 1993.
volved, I don't know if I'd have • Keshet's first fund-raiser, an
done it," Ms. Grier said, half-jok- evening at Mark Ridley's Come-
dy Castle in Royal Oak June 8,
ing.
With help from the Jewish In- honors Ms. Grier's efforts. To
formation Service, Jewish Fed- date, Keshet's budget has come
eration and the Agency for almost exclusively from a Max M.
— Ronelle Grier
Jewish Education, Ms. Grier held Fisher Foundation Grant.
Among Ms. Levine's challenges
the first Keshet meeting in 1990.
are increasing Keshet's visibil-
About 50 parents attended.
"I was so surprised. There were ity in the community and find- newsletter that reports on pend-
other people like myself. And ing additional sources of fund- ing legislation that might affect
there was a need," Ms. Grier said. ing. Federation has assured families with special needs.
Upcoming topics for program-
Keshet has grown to a mem- Ms. Levine of its commitment
ming
and discussion are Jewish
to
special
needs
in
the
communi-
bership of about 100 families, a
17-member board of directors, a ty. The Agency for Jewish Edu- education alternatives, bar and

"A simple thing.

like a kid's
_ birthday can throw
y' oll off."

..

bat mitzvah issues, holidays, fam-
ilies, forming friendships and sex-
uality.
"We have families where the
child is normal in every way ex-
cept that he is in a wheelchair,
and we have families with chil-
dren who will always be in dia-
pers. And these issues affect them
all," Ms. Levine said.
For Ms. Grier, the support she
found through Keshet has been
key.
"A simple thing like a kid's
birthday party can throw you
off. You see 5-year-olds all light
years ahead of where your child
is and it's devastating. I thought
I was the only one who felt
that way," Ms. Grier said. "Now
I have friends who I can call and
say, 'I just got back from a birth-
day party.' And they say, 'Say no
more.' ❑

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