Many of you know the Mahnaz family. They have been an essential part of improving communities in two states in the past few hears, seflessly and persistently dedicated to making things go right for other people's kids. What you may not know are the immense challenges they have been facing the last few years.
All three of the Mahnaz children have serious medical needs. While the pandemic raged on, Suraiya, age 6, was diagnosed with Autism and Sensory Processing challenges. Shortly after, Phoenix, age 4, was diagnosed with Epilepsy. At the same time, Rowan, age 1, was diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy to eggs. In order to meet their children’s needs Jenni and Aaron have moved states, pursued countless therapies, interventions and specialists, and moved heaven and earth to secure a home for their children. They have been subject to emergency room days more often than I can count. They’ve come up against insurance issues, provider challenges, costly surprises in their new home, and just plain awful luck. Through it all, they’ve remained committed to positively figuring out solutions to every challenge... and committed to our communities, to our children, and to their family vision of a good world in which every little one can grow up to be their best self.
After digging into many different therapies for Suraiya, a provider suggested a service dog would be a good idea for her. The same suggestion was made for Phoenix. After lots of discussion and research, Jenni and Aaron realized that the only way they could ever make this happen for their children without tens of thousands of dollars or an extremely long wait time would be to select a puppy and enlist the support of a trainer to help them train their own service dog. Anyone who knows Jenni knows this is indicative of who she is- if her kids need something she is bound and determined to make it happen. So many of us have benefitted from her stubborn tenacity on behalf of our children as she has advocated for them-- she is of course just as fiercely determined to do right by her children, and we should be, too.
Suraiya has been dreaming of meeting her new puppy for a long time now. She wants to name it Blueberry. Or Alex. Or Stardust. She isn’t quite sure yet! But she is sure that it should be a girl puppy with curly hair, just like her. Anyone who knows Suraiya knows her to be one of the most magical and exuberant kids on the planet. She’s also a kid who is looking forward to the help and support a service dog can provide her. Every time she has a melt down or is on sensory overload she asks her mom when her puppy is coming.
Now it’s finally time to bring Suraiya’s service puppy home and the financial challenge is real. While the cost of selecting a puppy and training it themselves is much more cost effective than obtaining a fully trained service dog, it’s still costly. The right puppy has presented itself at a time when the Mahnaz family is still financially reeling from unexpected costs associated with their new home. But, as always, Jenni and Aaron are determined to make this happen for their kid, just as they have made so much happen for our kids.
Through all of the challenges, this family has consistently shown up for their community- homeschool and otherwise. In fact, all Jenni wants for her children is a thriving and connected community to love and support them. Let’s surprise them with a gift that covers the initial cost of Suraiya’s puppy and take one worry off their plate. We know times are tight but if we all give a little, we can make this happen! If we happen to raise more than the target amount, that money will be put directly towards the training required to turn this puppy into a recognized service dog.
Please share far and wide so that we can help Suraiya welcome her service puppy home!