I often wonder what is going on inside Jake’s head … he often requires prompting to respond when others speak to him. And when he does speak, he has a reputation of not being the most “reliable witness”, as I like to say …. he has Echolalia (fairly typical for individuals with Autism) and tends to repeat the last thing he hears.
But, when Jake initiates a “conversation”, it’s very intentional … so it’s important to listen carefully.
On Monday morning, following our visit to the Dress For Success boutique, he was talking about all the different things he saw there, referring to it as “the thrift store”. He mentioned all the purses and bags we dropped off, but he was equally interested in listing the other items, such as belts, shoes, pants, skirts, and makeup.
I asked some clarifying questions, and, with Jake’s input, determined that:
Following the incredible time we had at the DFKDCHoliday Celebration on Saturday, December 19, 2015, it was time to share all the gifts created, donated, collected, wrapped, decorated, and stuffed. Volunteers like Jake helped to distribute the gifts, cards, ornaments, and other items to area recipients. Jake helped to deliver 300+ purses and bags stuffed with toiletries to the Dress For Success boutique in Washington, DC.
We met with Kelli Jones to deliver the purses and bags and to get a look at how Dress For Success helps women in the Washington DC area.
Jake with Kelli Jones
Jake likened the Dress For Success boutique to a “thrift store” … he enjoys “thrifting” (thrift store shopping) quite a bit. He views all the items as NEW, since they are new to him. He’s my favorite shopping companion … he seems to enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” almost as much as I do!
Well, all that to say that Jake seems keenly interested in continuing to help Dress For Success via Dreams for Kids DC … STAY TUNED!!!!!!
Visions of boxes and toiletries danced in my head …
I wasn’t worried or stressed, but excited and looking forward to the 2015 Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) Holiday Celebration. This year’s celebration was designed to be different from the previous “legacy” DFKDC Holiday For Hope event; this year’s celebration was focused on the abilities of children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities to give back to the less fortunate in their community.
On Saturday, the usual DFKDC participants were transformed into volunteers … they participated in such activities as:
Each volunteer activity was an experience meant to show DFKDC participants that their disability cannot hold them back from performing their own philanthropy!
Another “break with tradition” in this year’s celebration was the recognition of DFKDC’s “2015 Participants of the Year”:
– Jake & Sofia Arbeen
– Adrian Freeman
– Michael Rivera
– Jackson Roth
– Caleb Timmons
In out house alone, we currently have 1400+ toiletry items, which means we will be able to “stuff” at least 14 items per purse!!
As Jake’s mom, I have immeasurable gratitude to Glenda Fu, Executive Director of DFKDC for recognizing Jake (and sister, Sofia) as “Outstanding DFKDC Participants” … who could have predicted that the recognition of an 11 year old boy with Autism as an “Outstanding Participant” would have:
led to a desire to “do something for the adults” in honor of the Christmas holidays
led to such an outpouring of generosity from folks near and far, family, friends, and strangers alike
led to a greater sense of not only self-advocacy, but of advocacy for others
led to a greater recognition by others of the abilities of kids like Jake, not just their disabilities
Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) – you can proudly say “mission accomplished” … you have provided life-changing activities and opportunities that have empowered Jake to interact with members of the community, both with and without disabilities, and to compassionately change his little corner of the world for the better.
Thanks to Redskins’ Women of Washington (WoW) for having Dreams For Kids DC as part of its 2.0 football camp today featuring skins’ Will Compton and Darrell Young! WoW collected 68 purses for our holiday purse drive today (led by DFKDC participant Jake Arbeen) that will be donated back to Dress For Success once they are stuffed with toiletries at our DFKDC Holiday Celebration! Had such a great afternoon playing football, learning fantasy tips from fanduel and more at this for females only event!
“We have astounding great news! Jake has broke his goal of 100 purses for Dress for Success Washington, DC! We are at 180 purses and about 800 toiletries, meaning approximately 5 little presents going into each bag for underprivileged women in DC! Congrats Jake – you are our hero!”
Ummmmm … what?!?!?!?
“Without love, alms giving is no more important an activity than brushing your hair or washing your hands.” – Thomas Merton
Our idea of a “fun” holiday season weekend activity … why counting and sorting contributions to Jake’s community service project to benefit Dreams For Kids DC‘s Holiday Celebration and DC-area homeless, of course!!!
I’ve been wondering why Jake manages to stay so focused on these tasks. I think part of it has do to with Jake’s enthusiasm for the upcoming DFKDC Holiday Party … and why not … he’ll be there with his DFKDC “framily”, using his powers for good, and he’ll have the opportunity to decorate cookies, or so I’m lead to believe. He’s just stoked as can be for December 19th, 2015!!!
Maybe it’s the repetition of the physical action of sorting the various items.
Maybe it’s the visual aspect of finding a familiar corporate logo.
Maybe it’s knowing that what he’s doing will be helpful to others.
Well, whatever it is, I am truly impressed by my sweet young man!
Check out Jake’s latest collection numbers to date: