Welcome to Stephanie’s House
May 19, 2013
We have about one month until Stephanie graduates from the Devereux Kanner Center, a place she has called home for the last 14 years.
On May 22, she will turn 21, and we took her on a trip to Disneyworld to celebrate. While it is always fun to head to Disney, it was a reminder of how different life is going to be for Andy and me in a few weeks.
March 25, 2013
Things are moving in rapid fashion! We have a house we want to buy and we are in meetings with a local Philadelphia bank to support a mortgage. Money is in. Two fund-raisers in the works and at the same time, it has been announced, officially, that 1 in 50 children will be diagnosed with autism. Those numbers are downright frightening. We knew they were coming. We have been working for years to be ready for the big day – aka graduation day – June 28, 2013. On this day, Stephanie will don a gown and maybe a cap for all of five seconds and be handed a diploma that offers her nothing but freedom from 14 years of great love and care at Devereux. No one will look at that paper. No college will see her transcripts. No employer will want at least a GED.
Graduation day for my daughter will not be from college. Ever. She will not be packing up her things to go away or move to her own apartment. I will not be scrambling to buy her dishes and curtains and bedding for her first place.
Instead, she will move in with Andy and me for a few months until we can get Stephanie’s House upgraded and modified. It needs EVERYTHING. We will be interviewing for a house mom to live in, her aides, her roommates and their families. She is ours for life and that means our life as we now know it is about to change in a HUGE way.
Stephanie cannot work. She doesn’t even know her last name. She cannot brush her own teeth let alone stuff envelopes. She will need an aide to work with her 8 hours a day and a night companion to make sure she is safe. She could not get out of a house on fire. She cannot take a bath alone. She cannot cook, clean, do laundry … what CAN she do? It is a short list.
She needs activities on a set schedule every day. I have to plan all of this for her. Swimming, shopping, walking, art classes, some socialization. I have to make a life for her.
I am not sure where 14 years have gone. In those 14 years, she has grown from a crazy 7-year-old to quite a demure young woman.
These children with autism become adults with autism. These adults need a life. We are blazing a trail. Join us.
January 6, 2013
Sending a HUGE thanks to ICON who donated $10,000 to us for our mission.
The sales are all complete from our recent Autism Shops events both LIVE and on Facebook and we are pleased to annouce that between sales and donations, we raised enough to reach our $150,000 goal for the year! In fact, we are now at $160,000!
The house is waiting to be purchased! Thank you to everyone who has supported our cause this year. We are busy now attending meetings and lining up services. It is a daunting task. If you are the parent of a child with intellectual disabilities who will need life assistance, you need to get on the bandwagon and MOVE. It is never too early, especially if you are a resident of Pennsylvania. The state wants out of the housing business … it is going to be up to the parents to create and maintain LIFE homes for their children.
Although there are other parents who have been doing the same thing we hope to do for our daughter, they are in quiet working mode, generous to share their hows and whys, but moving forward with life. It is our intention to learn from them and be trailblazers. If you think it is a huge problem now – think down the line.
Currently, our daughter is on a list to be placed in an appropriate home. There is NOTHING available and she has been in a residential program through her school since she was seven. She is top priority. She has funding. There are NO options.
Off to create some magic.
Marie and Andy Ludwig
November 18, 2012
We thank everyone who supported our shopping event this weekend. We raised close to $40,000!!
Please join us on December 8 starting at 6 p.m. for our online Facebook Sale. We saved GREAT items including over 50 Coach bags, make-up, WEN, tons of Honora pearls and sterling gemstone jewelry, kitchen items and more!! All half price plus a couple bucks for the house!!
The way it works is simple. Go to the link below. LIKE the page. I will be giving updates and all info you need. At 6 p.m. the night of Saturday, December 8, I will post a link to a new Facebook page. This page will have a catalog of items to buy. TONS of items. It is all first come, first gets the item. So, if there is ONE Coach bag style, whoever says I WANT IT first, gets it!!
We saved a lot of Mally, Laura Geller, Philosophy skin care, Honora Pearls, WEN and more, including some great Genius kitchen items. Plenty for all. Online sale will run thru the holiday.
Items sell out fast!!!
Simply keep track of what you buy by adding it to a sales form I will e-mail to you at your request before or after sale. Send form back to me by e-mail and I will send you total, with shipping. You mail us a check made out to Stephanie’s House, Inc. and we send goodies, in a box, pretty darn quick. Expect extra goodies in box, as well! This is the fourth time we have done a Facebook sale. It works beautifully!!! Hundreds of happy shoppers! Yes, we need checks. We do NOT do credit cards online yet. Checks help us to keep all of your money and not pay percentages to credit card and bank machine companies. We will do paypal if it means the difference between sale and no sale. However, know that Paypal holds all of our money for a long time. We need to buy a house!!!!
Go to link, check in and stay tuned.
Help us make his dream come true!!
Thank you to Jan Muller and Lisa Commodari for donating 5 cases of wine for our Friday preview party!!
Thank you to Art and Paul for the Rich Chicks sliders.
Just picked up from one of our angel donors – gorgeous Dooney and Bourke bag, 3 Bruce Makowsky Bags , a couple of Kathy Van Zeeland bags, Ninja Blender, Mally Nail Gel Kit, cookware, Temptations and more.
30 pounds of Corky’s pulled pork! Thank you, Jimmy Stovall!!
3o Grandmas Coffee cakes! Thank you Robert Katz and Joanne!!
Thank you to Nancy for the handmade fleece blankets!
30 Triple Chocolate Cheesecakes from Juniors! Thank you Alan, Cindy, Colette and Debbie!
Tons of WEN. Thank you to Chaz Dean and Linda Cooper and the entire WEN family.
Over $5000 worth of Philosophy – lotions, potions, bath, fragrances … we thank two very special angels!!
We have over 50 brand new authentic Coach bags donated!! Great deals!!
Thank you to Kathy Robinson for some beautiful hand crafted pieces of clothing.
Thank you to Meg Adams, gifted psychic, for two readings!
Thank you to the Desmond Great Valley for brunch for 4!
Thank you to Josh Harrell for Jock Soap year 2!!
Thank you to Amy Dluhy for allowing us to store in her basement!
Thank you to our friend Mark Bruecks for donating two lovely curio cabinets and a gorgeous king size bed frame!
Thank you to Diana Urbine for loads of great stuff.
Thank you to Miss Mary from Cheryl’s cookies for donating year 4!
Thank you to Joanne and everyone from KIND bars for coming to our event to hand out free bars, and also for 10 of their gift cubes and a $2500 donation.
Thank you to Joe Campanelli for 17 cases of safari mops, dusters and cleaning sponges!
Thank you to Ed from Harry London for 5 6 pound tins of gourmet chocolates!
Thank you to Milan and Cindy from Genius Kitchen for over 150 items!
Thank you to Mally Roncal who donated 200 kits, 100 lipglosses and one of her fab new gel nail kits over $20,000!
Thank you to Joel and Ralph from Honora Pearls who donated over 150 necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Thank you to Laura Geller who donated hundreds of items totaling over $40,000!!
Thank you to Valerie Parr Hill for a generous selection of her fabulous home items.
Thank you to John McLemore and Masterbuilt for 6 turkey fryers.
Thank you to our friends at SideKicks Int’l for all of the great household items.
Thank you to our friend Lisa Commodari for a car crammed full of super kitchen items.
Thank you to Regina and Kim from Grandma Hoerner’s for the boxes of fresh preserves, jams, coffee and candles.
Thank you to Jimmy Stovall and Corky’s for once again providing all of the pulled pork for our sliders.
Thank you to Sweet Jazmine’s Bakery in Berwyn, PA – Kim – for her commitment to breakfast treats.
Thank you to jewelry designer Steven Lavaggi for reaching out to US to donate some of his wonderful pieces.
Thank you to Sue at Dooney and Bourke for the beautiful black leather DB tote.
Thank you to our friends at Coach for everything
Thank you to Tara at Temp-Tations for over 40 boxes of TT!
Thank you to Art and Paul at Rich Chicks for offering ANYTHING we need to feed our customers and volunteers.
Thank you to T O Epps and team for saving another truckload!
Thank you to Valerie Parr Hill for boxes and boxes af her adorable items.
I would like to thank Cafe Mom for visiting us at our farm. Here is the video on their website:
Update – we have raised close to $107,000!! We need to keep going. This is a never-ending, fund raising challenge on so many levels. Think about it. We want a house here in the Delaware Valley and although house prices are at an all time low, if we put the $100,000 down on a suitable place, we still have to pay the mortgage, utilities, upgrades for autism, a staff, care, food, maintenance.
We have only scratched the surface!!!
See our story video on YouTube.
So many have asked just HOW we are going to make this happen. Trust me when I tell you that we are doing our homework behind the scenes and what we are finding leads us right back to exactly WHY we, as parents, are fund raising. Unless things change in a huge way from a government funding perspective, there is not going to be enough to take care of all of these autistic kids and adults.
We are looking at a $300,000 home. I refuse to put our children in anything less than a wonderful place. I am not talking a palace, but cozy, clean and bright. In a great, quiet neighborhood. We will have a mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance, insurance on many levels. We will need a van to transport our gals and gas. We will need a houseparent and a staff who need to be paid and probably will want benefits. We will need to feed, clothe and entertain these gals.
Our fund raising will be responsible for MUCH of how this home will run. I do not expect much to come in from the government. What will Medicaid, Social Security and disability waivers provide? Hopefully, something. The rest will have to come from our non-profit, grants, donations and assistance from the families of our residents.
We have a LONG way to go.
There are legal fees, endless meetings, paperwork … and very few who are willing to donate services. WHY is that??? Here is a mom who is NOT looking to sit back and let the government take care of my daughter as an obligation. I am out working tirelessly to provide for myself and for others. You would be amazed how many doors get slammed in my gracious, kind and loving face. And yet, I am always the first to give to anyone what they ask for … that is not going to end.
This organization and its mission need to be bigger than anything out there and it needs to be built on a foundation that carries it far beyond my living years.
Right now, what we need are some generous LARGE benefactors. We need someone to send us a check for a million dollars or more to get us off the ground. Recently, in a spiritual reading with my medium friend, Alicia, my best friend came through from the other side and told me that we WOULD be successful. This would happen and that before I die 17 Stephanie’s Houses would be up and running across the country. We just need #1 to get us going and to show people that we can be the change the world needs.
1 in 75 children will be diagnosed this year with autism. Those children will grow up to be adults with autism who will need care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of their lives. If you are reading this, please help us!
If you happen to work for a company that will MATCH donated dollars, we hope you will give thoughtful consideration to our organization. We are small, but mighty. We are fiercely dedicated to making this happen! It HAS to happen.
Autism is not a disease that can be cured … it is a condition that must be managed in many different ways – from education to home care. This takes money. A lot of money!! In a perfect world, there is tons of cash earmarked for adult autism services … the fact of the matter is, every day more and more services get cut. I simply do not understand why services for the disabled are often the first to go when they are the gentle part of our society that needs the most urgent care.
I am a mom on a mission backed by a team of generous volunteers who get why we have to do this. You know, it is sad enough that I my daughter was taken from me in so many ways … I grieve every day for that loss. But I understand WHY. It does not make my grief any less, but it gives me a clear reason and mission.
I hope you can help us. Please donate!! Your donation is tax deductible!!
I have often spoke of this feeling I have about our lives ~ that each of us is here, for whatever amount of time, for a reason. A mission. Perhaps to leave this earth a little better than it was when we arrived. My mission has never been questioned. What began as a seed many, many years ago is now blooming and growing into an immense dream of a project that has to be given a formal start. And this is where the love story of “Stephanie’s House” will begin. My daughter Stephanie, who is severely autistic, will be 21 in 2013. It seems like an eternity, but we know how quickly time passes and if I blink and do not get moving, my daughter and many young women like her, will be without a place to spend their lives. In the state of Pennsylvania, there are tens of thousands of adults, like Stephanie, who are on waiting lists to be placed in appropriate residential care facilities where they are provided a life of joy, dignity, worth and friendship. It will not be enough to bring her home. She needs care 24/7 and with it, socialization, life skills, friendship and healthy activities. As a mother, it will also be a blessing to know she is living in a place that is safe and loving, especially after I am gone. With this in mind, I have made it my life mission to establish what I hope to be the first of many residential facilities for women with autism. We have called our first project “Stephanie’s House,” because we are a 501c3 non-profit organization whose goal it is to raise over $350,000 to buy our first home where my daughter, and 4 other young women, will reside beginning in 2013. It is a HUGE undertaking and one that will require me to reach out to the kindnesses of everyone I know.
We are an official 501c3 non profit recognized with all of the rights and legal privileges. All donated money is 100% tax deductible. We have had 2 large fund raisers “Autism Shops” where we have raised $50,000 of the money we need just to get into a house. We have less than 2 years to make this happen and in a world where everyone is looking for a donation, this has not been easy. My entire life is now dedicated to making this happen. We have had over 50 people nominate our family for Extreme Home Makeovers. We would like to see our older home taken down and replaced with the first, official technologically designed home that meets the safety requirements for adults and children with autism. This would be a place where innovation meets quality of life. Safety is a major issue. We need locks, monitors, and a way to communicate with these girls and, more importantly, we need a lovely, warm and engaging place for them to spend their adult lives. They love to swim, play on the computer … so much needs to be done. I am ready to make this happen and one person could be the beginning of inspiration for so many families!!
In the next decade, over 500,000 autistic children will reach the age of 21 and age out of the school system. Without appropriate housing and job opportunities, these people will be faced with a life of adult day care at a cost to their parents or they will be living out the rest of their lives in front of a TV set.
I will not let this happen.
I am a parent of a child with special needs. I let the “label” that they gave you fade away. I have let the stares at the grocery store dissolve right into the ground. I have abandoned the anger at a world not made for us. Instead, I am strong, forgiving and show compassion to those who could never understand. I build our new world. One filled with a peace that passes all logic or understanding. One that keeps us safe from harm. One that fills our heart with hope that we can be strong together. This is my miracle. HOPELights♥
Faithfully composed ~
Marie Louise Ludwig, mom on a mission