Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Patay.
Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Given that I am a “Special Needs Mom,” one that cares for a son, age 15 with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, I felt and still feel such a concern and burden for other moms. I know the highs and lows, the isolation, the stress and trauma it puts on a marriage and family.
For years, I wanted to start something to provide information, inspiration, community, and connection for other care-giving moms. I have always been a planner and proponent of Girls’ Trips and mommy-breaks. I began formally organizing “Girlfriends’ Retreats” in 2012 with my best friend, Kimberly Kooy.
After a retreat in Nashville, Tennessee, Kimberly and I began dreaming and scheming of turning our trips into meeting a need we knew all too well: respite for Special Needs Moms. I launched We Are Brave Together in July 2017 with a Summer Inspiration Party. We had 60 moms attend that first event. The response was overwhelming and the need for community to combat the isolation often found in Special Needs Motherhood was crystal clear. We moved forward and formed a Board of Directors and applied for 501(c)3 status. In March of 2018, we got it!! We now have almost 600 moms nationwide with about 450 of those moms residing in Southern California.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been a smooth road, thankfully, as we have received such enthusiasm and support from others. Our Board is a working board and I am grateful for their experience and critical input, ideas, and feedback. As with any new non-profit organization, we have big dreams, but we need financial support to expand and pursue those dreams. Fundraising is difficult in this day and age when it seems EVERYONE is raising money for a cause, and due to social media, it seems saturated out there. However, we have created an organization to meet a niche need, and we trust that our fundraising efforts will not be in vain. One in 5 children in the United States has a special health-care need. That means we have a lot of mothers and families to reach out to!
We’d love to hear more about your organization.
We Are Brave Together is a non-profit organization that provides respite, community, inspiration and mentoring for mothers caring for children of any age with disabilities, special needs, or other medical or mental health challenges. We do this by providing traditional support groups, workshops, retreats, and other inspirational events. We also produce “The Kitchen Chats” on our YouTube channel to send out resources to moms everywhere.
Our focus is MOTHERS. Supporting, uplifting, empowering, informing, and mentoring mothers. If you strengthen a mother, you strengthen a family. What sets us apart from other support groups is just that: our focus on mothers, and mothers from a variety of backgrounds. Our umbrella includes moms caring for children, any age (even adult children), with any diagnosis, disability or challenge. We do not simply focus on one disease or diagnosis. Sharing our diverse and unique stories, AND gathering in person has a profound effect on each of us.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have just launched our Retreat Scholarship Fund!! We plan to send at least three moms to each retreat for FREE. Mothers who otherwise would not be financially able to attend our weekend of respite and rest.
Our retreats hold 20-30 spots each time and I hope we will be able to expand that to more moms and more retreats each year.
We would also like to see other support groups rise up in other cities and states–we hope that WABT inspires moms to get together each month and form their own mini-support groups.
One of our inspirational events is called Dear Younger Me, with moms of adult children with special needs speaking on a variety of topics, sharing their savvy and experience. I hope we can turn this one day into a conference. To the attendees, it provides mentoring, information and hope for the journey as a Special Needs Mom.
- Address: P.O. Box 3002
Palos Verdes Peninsula, Ca 90274
- Website: wearebravetogether.com
- Phone: 310-489-6605
- Email: email@example.com
Amy Williams (group photo); Jennifer Towsend (photo with sign)