NEPA mothers develop Brighter Journeys to support families with children with special needs
The efforts of two local women, to create a support system for fellow parents of children with special needs, have developed into the formation of a non-profit organization.
Lisa Urbanski, of Dorrance, and Bernice Sando, of Shavertown, founded Brighter Journeys after experiences with their own children who have special needs motivated them to educate and aid others. The nonprofit is aimed at providing necessary items to families who can’t afford them and establish a network of people who can share information.
Brighter Journeys has its first two events scheduled for Oct. 21 and in April 2017.
Urbanski’s 11-year-old son, Joseph, is autistic and has a condition called partial trisomy 16, a rare chromosome abnormality.
“Joseph has had 27 surgeries, and being back and forth to Philadelphia, I realized the support system at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia needed to be brought back here,” Urbanski said.
Sando has a 15-year-old daughter, Jillian, with Down syndrome.
“Going through the journey with her and finding out about the difficulties and the things people don’t realize about the journey of a child with Down syndrome brought me to do this,” Sando said.
Brighter Journeys, Urbanski said, began with an idea to have an Easter egg hunt for children with special needs in the region.
“When I called Mohegan Sun Pocono and asked if we could hold an event like that in their ballroom, they ran with it. That’s when we decided to start Brighter Journeys,” Urbanski said.
Urbanski said the non-profit is “parent driven” and designed to support mothers who are just finding out they’re having children with special needs.
“We’re a group of moms who get it,” Urbanski said. “We want to steer these moms in the right directions to some of the different resources that are out there for them. We want them to know there are people out there for them, not just social workers.”
Urbanski named perimeter fencing for yards, handicap ramps and iPads, which Urbanski said are important educational and entertainment tools for many familes who have children with special needs, among items Brighter Journeys will seek to provide to families.
“There are certain expenses insurances won’t cover and parents of some special needs children can’t cover,” Urbanski said. “We want to raise money to cover those costs.”
Brighter Journeys’s inaugural fundraiser and kickoff event takes place from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. in the Keystone Grand Ballroom of Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township with the help of a newly established board of directors. The event features four food stations, two carving stations, a dessert bar and a chocolate buffet table from Michael Mootz Candies.
Tickets cost $50, and patrons can call 570-814-6606 for reservations. The donation also gets patrons an hour of open bar and a three hour cash bar as well as live entertainment by Flaxy Morgan.
“We have tons and tons of baskets to raffle and silent auction items,” Urbanski said.
The Easter egg hunt takes place in the Keystone Grand Ballroom in April 2017, and Brighter Journeys expects between 800 and 1,000 children to attend. Michael Mootz Candies and The Hershey Company are donating candy and prizes for the April event. An exact date will be announced as the event approaches.
Urbanski hopes to donate items to families with children with special needs by May 2017. For more information on Brighter Journeys, visit brighterjourneys.net.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts