My boy, Jeremiah has autism and those closest to us understand the challenges and struggles he (and we) live with every day. Jeremiah has been admitted to a special private Christian school (right across the street from my new job). This school has specially credentialed teachers who specialize in helping learners like him. I didn't apply until I knew I had a job--which was very late by this school's application calendar. I really didn't think he would get in, but a slot opened up so he started in August. He has been there for one month and the growth we've seen so far has been enormous. Better than we dared to hope for!
I knew we didn't have the financial means to afford his whole first year on our own but he needs it so much that we proceeded anyway hoping the assistance would come just in time. Because the public schools in our area are hotbeds of drug activity and violence, and because my boy can't defend himself physically or even verbally, the public school has always been a non-option for him. Because we home-schooled him up through 3rd grade (instead of attending public school) my boy is not eligible for my state's school choice financial aid options. This requirement (and others) requires families to forfeit a lot of their privacy and decision making autonomy to get this money which (in my estimation) would put my state's department of Education in the role of primary decision maker for my son. Because I find this unacceptable, I am seeking private assistance for one year of tuition.
I hope those who know me would say that I am a faithful dad, a loyal husband and a good friend who has also always helped others in need with a cheerful heart and a generous spirit. Now that I find myself in the role of recipient, it's hard for me, but when it comes to my children, I can't let my pride get in the way. I have two jobs and am working hard to pay down the debt accumulated during two years of being unemployed, but I understand why people might want an explanation for why I am not more prepared to do this on my own.
Just as many veterans have struggled to find their place in the post-military civilian world, I did too. I started and stopped working at a few different places while figuring out where to belong. I didn't want to be (and never thought I would be) unemployed--especially not for two years--but I was. I was out of work for half of 2016, all of 2017, and until July of this year (2018). In hindsight, I could have been wiser, and done some things differently, but somethings you just don't know until you learn them by making mistakes. I have always had a strong work ethic, have always been a high achiever, so the thought that I would be unemployed for two years was inconceivable to me. There is no way I could have predicted that.
The long period of unemployment evaporated our savings (about $17K) and then I was dipping into the credit cards to help us make it. The mounting debt now makes an additional $700/month for my boy's school a bit too much for the monthly budget, but because I know how bad he needs this we went for it anyway. If I can't get the help, I can give up my car and take the bus to work (or something), but this can pay dividends for a lifetime. I have two jobs now and my wife is looking for work too. If we can raise the money for my boy to attend this school for one year, we can recover enough financially to handle this without help from next year on.
For the first time ever in his young life) is now talking about the future with hope in his voice. With expectations to succeed. Before he found this school, the thought of "growing up " always made him feel anxious. Please pray for him, and if you can, join us financially and become part of his success story!
- James Kippenhan
- Randy Grimm
- Luella Troutman