2014 Military Special Needs Network Holiday Guide Winter 2014 - Page 6

As a special needs parent who has been a military spouse, whose life consisted of moving, having a constricted schedule, and having a typical child to entertain creates an isolating situation at times. I always felt that there had to be more people that felt the same way. So when I connected with two amazing people who introdused me to a whole world where I could do so much more to help my daughter. this drive soon poured over and became a need for me to help my community. These individuals had a vision for the special needs community: they dreamed of workshops, conferences, and Mingle.

I gravitated toward this social experiment called Mingle. Mingle was to be social safe haven for special needs families. Vendors would attend to offer resources, share experiences and show support to the community.

My first event I was proud to bring together about 65 people in the San Diego community to connect over food and drinks. As time went on organizing became easier. Word had got out

about our amazing event. Adding free food, prizes and a kid's corner I'm sure helped as well.

I was proud of Mingle, and I loved that more and more families were coming together when most say they never get out. By our last event, Mingle had grown to being a quarterly event with an attendance of around 140 individuals.

I volunteer because it is my hope to make sure that families get all the help and support they need. Even with a busy schedule it is all worthwhile to see so many families feeling excited to have a place that is all their own. I have met so many wonderful people along the way that give me insight into various parts of the special needs community, and I am so grateful to have such a wealth of knowledge to help my daughter.

- Lorraine F.

I began the wonderful experience of Mingle because of stumbling upon two amazing people at one time. These people introduced me into a whole world where I could do so much more to help my daughter and this drive to do better for her poured over to help the community, especially the community of over worked, sleepless parents with an overload of information. As a special needs parent who has been a military spouse with lots of moving, having a constricted schedule and having a typical child to entertain creates an isolating situation at times. I always felt that there had to be more people that felt the same way. So when I connected with these two people they both had such different backgrounds but the same drive to connect the special needs community. They dreamed of workshops, conferences, and Mingle.

I gravitated toward Mingle. Mingle was to be social safe haven for special needs families. Vendors would attend to offer resources, share experiences and show support to the community. It was the first time I had helped organize an event that didn't consist of birthday party favors and I loved it! I had so many emotions because I had never had to contact so many people to hope that they would show up. Being so nervous on the phone waiting for a yes was hard especially trying to juggle calls during my daughter's therapy sessions and watching my other minion.

By the end of my first event I was so proud to bring together about 65 people in the San Diego community connecting over food and drinks. As time went on the organizing got easier and word had got out about our amazing event. Adding free food, prizes and a kid's corner I'm sure helped as well. Mingle made me proud and I loved that more and more families were coming together when most say they never get out. By our last event, mingle had grown to being every three months with an attendance of 140 each event. I volunteer because it is my hope to make sure that families get all the help they need and they get the support they need. Even with a busy schedule it is all worthwhile to see so many families feeling excited to have a place that is all their own. I have met so many wonderful people along that way that give me insight into various parts of the special needs community that I am so grateful to have such a wealth of knowledge to help my daughter.

6 2014 MSNN Holiday Guide / November, 2014