Jenna’s Story

Nov 5, 2010 | Uncategorized

Our friends have given Jenna a wonderful gift this holiday season – the gift of Hope.  Allow me to explain…

When Jenna was born, her parents were naturally overjoyed.  Stacey and Steve marveled at their child’s tiny toes, her beautiful eyes and her precious little smile.  Like all parents, they beamed with pride as their child took her first steps and spoke her first words.

But when Jenna was 14 months old, something happened.  She suddenly stopped speaking and refused any eye contact.  “Jenna didn’t respond at all when I cooed to her and held her,” her mother recalls sadly.  “Now I know that was the autism.”

As Jenna got older, her frustration in communicating her needs, affected her behavior.  “We had to put special locks on the doors and windows to keep her from wandering,” Stacey explains.  “As she became increasingly aggressive, we couldn’t have friends over or have family activities outside the house.  We couldn’t just put a sign on her that said ‘AUTISM’ so people would understand what was going on with our child.”

Can you imagine the anxiety and worry Stacey and Steve suffered as they thought about Jenna’s future?  All they wanted was for their little girl to grow up happy, secure, and to live as independently as possible.

For years, Jenna’s family struggled to take care of her and keep her safe at home.  But eventually, her parents realized that she needed a more structured environment.  They realized they needed help, but they didn’t know where to turn…until they found The Hope Institute.

“Jenna is so much happier now, and we have a very good feeling about her being at Hope,” her mother is proud to report.  “Hope has taught her how to be self-sufficient, and that is her greatest accomplishment.  I can barely believe she’s learned to brush her teeth, wash her hair, make her bed and do her own laundry!”

In fact, Jenna’s doing so well at Hope that she’s started vocational training – learning basic assembly tasks and helping at a local dental office twice a week.  These are life experiences that, long ago, Jenna’s parents could only have dreamed for their child.  Today, those dreams are becoming a reality.  What a precious gift!

The Hope Institute has been caring for special needs children like Jenna since 1957.  Over the years, Hope has evolved into a unique educational, residential and medical facility that combines customized, one on one education and state-of-the-art technology, allowing each of our students to achieve their maximum potential.

The Hope Institute offers true Hope to children and families facing extraordinary challenges, but we could never make this critical difference without the help of generous and caring people like you.

Your gifts offer children like Jenna, who struggle with the effects of autism and other significant disabilities, their best hope for independence and happiness.

Thank you again for opening your heart to the special needs of Hope’s children.

Donate Now

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About us

At Hope, we support children and families to achieve optimum growth, independence and joy.


The Hope Institute

15 East Hazel Dell Lane
Springfield, IL 62712