Variety - The Children's Charity Of Wisconsin
Rating: 4.97 stars 60 reviews
Issues: Disabilities, Education, Human Services, Philanthropy
Location: 12425 Knoll Rd. Suite 110 Elm Grove WI 53122 USA
Target demographics: Variety serves Wisconsin children who are challenged by physical disabilities, 21 years of age and younger and whose needs are not met by other sources, including family, school, insurance and service program resources.
Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2014, we directly helped 34 children get the durable medical equipment, therapy and services they needed and purchased approximately $56,000 through our Freedom Program. We hosted 34 events through the Future Kids program with more than 2,050 participants. We hosted 18 families for Chatter Matters! Communication Camp.
Geographic areas served: Wisconsin
The Variety Freedom Program encompasses mobility, communications and experiences. The Freedom Program exists to help children with physical challenges obtain confidence, freedom and independence by funding durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, van lifts, house ramps, adaptive car seats and strollers, specially-equipped bicycles and tricycles, bath equipment and stair lifts, for those with the greatest financial need.
The Variety Future Kids Program provides memorable educational and play experiences that would likely be inaccessible to children with physical challenges due to mobility or financial restrictions. The program takes children and their immediate family members on fun, free outings.
Chatter Matters! Communication Camp is a residential camp for children who use speech generating devices and their entire family to become better communicators in a fun, traditional camp setting.
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We received a wheel chair lift for our home from variety a few years back. It has been a god send to our family we are able to take our son to many events with other variety families with such ease along with everyday life events.
My son Nicolas is a loving 4 yr old at the age of 5 months he was injured and diagnosed with Non accidental brain injury. Since moving to Wisconsin Variety has allowed my other children and Nicolas to participate in dream nights such as the bucks games, and admirals games along with the ren faire these are things that with a child of special needs we as a family can not possibly find the extra money to spend on things like this. As we are busy buying items for Nicolas' care and as toys for him that are adaptive to him and his needs. Variety has allowed us as a family to offer a childhood to our other 2 children that in the light of Nicolas injuries we would have been unable to provide and still provide the best for Nicolas.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Many dream night activities. With out the hard work of the people at Variety my family and I would not have met some great families struggling with the same things and matters that we do and they have helped point us in the right direction for many opportunities
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
See that these fine ladies that run this organization had a bit more help in the office.
Because my daughter has Down Syndrome, we've been able to take part in many of the sponsored events Variety has been able to offer our family. We've gone to events that we never would have been able to take part in otherwise. Blue Lotus Farms, Christmas party at Marcus Cinema, sporting events, plays, and the list goes on. Thank you for making life more enjoyable by providing outlets for our "special" daughter! -Jackie Marz
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We are new to Variety and have only been to one event, but that one event was amazing! Being around families just like ours and being able to relate to them was just amazing and at no cost to us! We receive emails for other amazing free events that our family wouldn't normally be able to afford due to medical bills. We look forward to attending many more events with Variety with our family!
2015 was my family's first year experiencing Variety! The staff is really nice and welcoming. My family enjoyed a few Buck's games and we also attended the Chatter Matters camp, which was great!!! We look forward to attending many more Variety events!!! The Baker Family:)
Great organization, really helped my disabled daughter feel part of the community! We have been to several different events, brewers game, Bucks games etc that we could have not paid for ourselves.
They offered a great birthday party, piano bar, lots of fun hints all over the area:)
My name is Elizabeth perez my daughter Yessenia has C.P. We heard about Variety about 1 year ago and since then we have enjoyed their program. We have gone to a bucks game thanks to them. We really apreciate everything that they have to offer. We are from Madison and sometimes is hard for us to be able to enjoy all they can offer but when we do we are very greatful. Variety has tought me that we are not alone and that there is many families that I can relate to. Thank again Variety.
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Variety has been awesome with answering questions about services offered to my son Nathaniel drinkman. Shelley drinkman
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We have been extremely impressed with the variety of services and support available through Variety. My son has right sided hemiplegia due to an in-utero stroke. We first heard about Variety's adaptive bicycle program, and while we've never pursued a bike, we've participated in Madison's movie with Santa event for the past two years and really appreciate the thoughtful staff who consistently are thrilled to see my child and always make sure we have everything we need. We've been unable to attend other events, but have been extremely impressed with the organization's dedication and breadth of services.
We have 3 boys who all love to have fun. Our oldest two are twins born conjoined at their lower backs and have spina bifida. Both use wheelchairs. The Variety Club allows our family to attend events we normally would not be able to afford to take all our boys to. It also allows them to meet others with disabilities. The variety club is an amazing program that we feel very fortunate to be a part of.
Both my wife and I wanted to extend a word of thanks regarding the Chatter Matters Camp our family was able to enjoy this week. The brief opportunities to share our gratitude kind of took us by surprise - as I'm sure it did for other families as well. It was tough to process the amount we have to be thankful for during that short amount of time. Here are a few thoughts...
Life as a special needs parent, by necessity, can be quite regimented. Daily rituals get us through each day, and work and sleep deprivation take their toll. Even a vacation isn't a vacation, as they are often largely the same regimen in a new location - plus a degree of uncertainty with regard to new locations, new hospitals, new stares, etc. The opportunities to really sit back and reflect, plan, and course-correct rarely come, and is often done with 'the ball in motion', and some degree of fatigue.
The Chatter Matters Camp was beneficial to us in many incalculable ways. The opportunity to have our son's needs given a fresh review by so many speech professionals was priceless for him, and reassuring for us. Our eight year old son's speech began with his first word nearly two years ago to the day. The long plateaus between any progress in speech always make us concerned about committing extended lengths of time to try anything new. We see the benefit that this technology can provide Brandon, and I'm not confident that would have happened without this camp.
The opportunity to be with other special needs parents also helped us out of our years-long sense of isolation. What made this camp particularly helpful was the shared experience of specifically being with the parents of children with extreme communication disabilities. We don't feel as isolated as our children who can't talk, but we share that sense of isolation the same. It was a tremendous experience to be among those who 'get it' - both professionally and in their daily home life as well - and to have that opportunity have some community.
Safety - a long forgotten sense of safety. Our son never responds when he wanders off, which always leaves us anxious wherever we go. The speech professionals, the speech students, the community of families (both the siblings and parents), the predictable and easily searchable facility layout - all made us feel safe for the first time outside of our home in a long time. The two times our son did wander off this week, it turned out he was simply escorted to the washroom by the volunteer psychologist, and another time he went back into our room, where an SLP was just patiently waiting outside the room with the door open, keeping a watchful I on him until we figured out he was missing. That was really ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty and greatly appreciated that.
The opportunity to be able to speak with a psychologist was beneficial as well. A fresh perspective that is experienced, objective, and insightful can be immensely helpful when parents and kids are caught in a regimented daily routine. We received some great, practical takeaways that we will use to help our son to cope more appropriately in new environments and new social situations that are over-stimulating to him.
The siblings were amazing as well. Our son easily gets overwhelmed in social situations and shuts down around regular kids playing at their own pace. We saw the face-hiding and withdrawal again with an opening soccer game. It only took a couple of words with these kids and they readily throttled down their intensity. Within the hour, we saw our son play soccer with kids nearly his own age for the first time ever. Indeed, it was the first time we saw him engage in a "non-parallel play" manner. We feel it was a defining, formative break-through moment for him!
As a parent of a speech-language pathology student who volunteered, the event was priceless as well. A university could not have created a more comprehensive pre-professional experience. Not only was the exposure to top-shelf SLPs a great opportunity, but they also received the experience of being able to dine and listen to parents, work with our kiddos, and interact with their siblings. Our daughter has already has this experience, but it is not the same until you can break out of your own family dynamic - so this benefitted her as well. The key difference between being a health care provider, and being a health care provider of excellence, begins a foundation of mercy. We feel that this comprehensive experience fosters the heart of a true caregiver enormously. For certain, the perspective made possible to these students during a formative period in their careers will pay dividends to the children and families they will serve in the future.
Oh, we could tell that our service dog, Sienna, enjoyed the week too. Our family routine has kept us from seeing the benefits of all her people-skills and training, so that was an unexpected discovery and bonus as well.
Finally, I have to mention the staff and environment of Inspiration Ministries. The meal planning, food preparation, the easy cleanup, the child-friendly environment; having all of these concerns and activities taken out of our routine for a few days provided us with opportunities to think, and regain some sense of adult community. There were moments where my wife and I actually spoke in complete, uninterrupted sentences. We already can't remember what we said, but it happened there!
So again, we have a lot to be grateful for and extend a sincere word of thanks to Variety for making the Chatter Matters Camp happen. As always, there are just too many individuals for us to thank. If forwarding this message is possible, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you to all who made this past week, both possible and memorable.
Jim, Anne, Victoria (Tori), Brandon, and Sienna Behan