Reflections on Our Fairytale Summer

13698251_1299960353362622_2207321767085488981_oESP Families & Supporters,

Our hearts may not be able to handle any more joy than that which we have experienced this summer. On June 4th, we opened the doors to our dream home. As 700+ people walked in, construction trucks and trailers rolled out. Exactly year after breaking ground, I was graced with the opportunity to share how this journey started with a small seed thirty years ago and grew into something so beautiful.

Our founder Martha Wyllie had a seed of vision for a special place for kids of all abilities. Twenty five years later, another small seed formed. It was a seed that held hope and the belief that individuals with disabilities could be served in a home created just for them.

One of the most rewarding parts of this journey has been watching hundreds of people in the community water that seed. From the beginning, our Board of Directors pulled together a plan. That seed was then watered by Dave Williams, the VFW Post 9147, Mayor Ivey & the City Council of Watkinsville, who creatively worked to provide us land.

Next, our Buildings & Grounds Chair Jon Williams rallied together an unwavering group of individuals, our Dream Builders. They worked up to the very hour of the Grand Opening because they believe that kids of all abilities deserve to thrive. If you visit our building, you will be blown away by all of the companies and individuals who have donated over $700,000 worth of materials and services.

From a small seed, a mighty trunk may grow. And grow it did. But what is a tree without someone to sit below it? The building is not for those that built it and grew our dream… our new home is for our ESP families and their children. It is our hope that it will be a place of laughter and joy and a place where those of all abilities are loved for many years to come.

This summer has truly been an “ESP Ever After” fairytale. The benefits have been so numerous more campers, more activities, less negative behaviors, a well-nourished staff, a place for families, storage, a thriving coffee shop. The list continues.

When you walk into our new home, you will see a large tree. This tree symbolizes our ESP friends thriving; it symbolizes ESP as a playful and fun place; and it symbolizes those that watered a seed for a tree under which they will never sit…. It symbolizes a journey, a small seed that was watered by many, grew into something beautiful, and is now enjoyed by many.

If you have not visited our new home, please come see this joy for yourself. Thank you for being a part of our journey. I hope you will continue with us, pouring love into individuals of all abilities as we, together, make our community a more accepting place.

In service,

Laura Whitaker

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About The Author

Laura Whitaker

Laura Whitaker, M. Ed., began her relationship with Extra Special People, Inc. by working as a counselor and, subsequently, a leadership team member in 2003. With her passion for enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities and her specialized education in this field, Laura was selected as the director after the founder, Martha Wyllie’s sudden passing in 2004. She has found her dream job with ESP (or her dream job found her!). As Executive Director, Laura uses her leadership and management strengths to manage staff, oversee multiple year-round programs and raise funds to run programs. Her favorite part of the job is getting to hug the many children who walk through the ESP doors.

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