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Meet Shauna Amick of Joni and Friends International Disability Center in Agoura Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shauna Amick.

Shauna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When my daughter was born with Down syndrome 12 years ago, I needed a support system. I got connected to Joni and Friends as a special-needs Mom in desperate need of help and hope. After being served so well by Joni and Friends, I became a volunteer for the organization, as I wanted to give something back to the people who gave me and my family so much. Volunteering turned into serving on the Board of Joni and Friends New England (where I lived at the time), and then I was offered the position of Area Director for the New England office. I served in that capacity for over five years, and was then asked to move to the Joni and Friends headquarters here in California, where I now serve as Vice President of Development. I have been here in Greater LA for over a year and a half and I love it!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Embracing the “new normal” of being a family affected by disability is a rocky road. Rejection, isolation, desperation…. these are all very real struggles that parents – and siblings – face on this unique journey.

Joni and Friends International Disability Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Joni and Friends supports families affected by physical and/or intellectual disabilities, both here in the United States and all across the globe. What sets us apart is that we serve the entire family – not just the child or adult affected by disability. For example, whereas other disability organizations host camps for children affected by disabilities with the intent of serving the child alone without the rest of his/her family, Joni and Friends Family Retreats include the whole family – parents and siblings along with the children who are disabled.

This serves to strengthen entire family bonds. The other program we are well known for is Wheels for the World, where we deliver and custom-fit wheelchairs to disabled children and adults in developing nations all over the planet.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The times when I can help others recognize that all people are created as valuable and equal – regardless of how many working limbs they have, or now many chromosomes they have, or how many IQ points they think they have – those are the highlights of my career.

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