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Kaitlyn N.

The difference makers

Throughout history, there have been countless stories of individuals who helped shape someone’s life. The ones who are there when others are not. The ones who make the most difference.

A high school English teacher who stays after school each day to sit with a student whose home life is in peril, providing a level of support they can’t find at home.

A Pennsylvania restaurant owner who offers free lunch to children during school shutdowns, knowing many deal with food insecurity. 

A nurse who stays past her shift to talk and play with a child whose parents were seriously injured in a car accident, giving her a welcome distraction from the seriousness of the situation.

If you think back on your life, you’ve probably encountered someone along the way who you can point to and say, “There. That was the moment when I needed help - and that was the person who gave it to me.” The difference makers

When we met the mother of our most recent recipient, Kaitlyn, she turned to a member of our Chive Charities team and said, “There. She’s the one who has helped change my life.”

But first, let’s take you back to the beginning. 

When Kaitlyn’s mom, Lisa, realized she needed some more help and support for her daughter, she was overwhelmed by the thought of asking for assistance.

What paperwork would she need? How much information would be required? How would she find the time to balance it all? And then, the biggest question of all - what if it was all for naught?

Lisa is a single, working mother raising a child with special needs, caring for her own mother who lives in her home and struggles with dementia, and pregnant with her second daughter who will be born in just a few weeks. She’s got a lot on her plate. 

Finding extra time to do anything is a luxury and one she often doesn’t receive.

Lisa knew she couldn’t keep managing through Kaitlyn’s growing list of needs on her own. And it’s seemed like over the years, more and more keeps popping up. A never-ending cycle of diagnoses and challenges, and one woman who shoulders it all. 

It hasn’t always been this way. 15 years ago, Kaitlyn was born a happy and healthy baby. Things were going well and she seemed to be growing and developing like any other infant and toddler. 

“At around age 3,” Lisa told us, “I noticed that she started regressing. She stopped talking as much and wouldn’t really respond. That’s around the time she was diagnosed with autism.”

Lisa was saddened to hear that news, but also kind of relieved to have a diagnosis and a better understanding of her daughter’s needs. 

While it’s been difficult at times - communicating is the biggest challenge - they’ve found their way through it together and adjusted to their new normal. 

Then, just a couple of years ago, another issue emerged. Kaitlyn began having seizures. As a parent, it has to be horrible to watch your child experience something like that and feel completely helpless. To this day, doctors still aren’t sure of the cause. 

Worst of all, the medical team gave Kaitlyn medication to help stop her seizure activity and it caused a rare side effect called Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). 

SJS is…well, it’s horrible. It’s a serious disorder of the skin that’s usually a reaction to medication. What starts as flu-like symptoms develops into a painful rash that spreads and blisters. Then the top layer of affected skin dies, sheds, and begins to heal several days later.

How unfair is that? Trying to treat one thing only to be handed something else entirely. 

When our team got on a Zoom call with Lisa, we saw first-hand what a day in her life can look like. She didn’t end up making our scheduled time because Kaitlyn had a seizure at school and needed to be picked up. Life isn’t convenient or predictable, so they adjust.

One resource Lisa can rely on is her service coordinator through Medicaid. That person mentioned Chive Charities as another option for the family to get some of the support they needed that their insurance or Medicaid couldn’t cover. 

“I was really overwhelmed at the thought of applying,” Lisa told us. “We’re just juggling so much. But I had such a strong feeling about Chive Charities - like I needed to keep going forward. And then after I talked to Allison, she wouldn’t let me slip through the cracks. I don’t know if I would have kept going without her.”

Allison is a program coordinator for Chive Charities. She’s exactly like that English teacher, restaurant owner, and nurse who helped shape other people’s lives. 

When Lisa got the courage to ask for help, Allison stayed beside her the whole time, fielding questions, answering the phone after work hours, and making sure Lisa had all the support she needed to get Kaitlyn some high-priority items and care. 

Because of Allison, one of the difference makers, Lisa applied for a grant. That allowed Chive Charities and our donor family to fund a new iPad (essential for communication, as Kaitlyn is non-verbal) and critical therapy treatments. The total financial impact was $6,500. Allison’s impact was priceless.

“I just can’t say enough about her,” Lisa told us. “She checks up on me to make sure we’re okay, she followed up with us when we were in the hospital, she’s always asking what she can do - it’s amazing. That’s why I’m here today. Because of her.”

The English teachers, the restaurant owners, the nurses. The Chive Charities donors. The Allisons. 

To all the difference makers, to all the ones who are there when no one else can be, to the people changing lives for the better…thank you. Become a difference maker today and DONATE HERE.

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