“Nothing prepares you for the news that your child has Down syndrome,” say Bill and Sheryl Warne. The Warnes’ daughter, Hope, was born in 2004, joining siblings Grace (7) and William (5). In addition to having Down syndrome, Hope required surgery to correct intestinal problems.
Faced with Chicago’s slipping economy and drawn by family in the D.C. area, the Warnes moved to Northern Virginia in 2007. They visited McLean Bible Church and found out about its Access Ministry. Hope became a regular visitor to Jill’s House when it opened in 2010. “Hope packs her bags in advance,” says Sheryl. “She loves coming to Jill’s House.”
Hope’s visits provide a much-needed break for the rest of the family too, since the family is always “on guard” keeping Hope safe. “It’s easier for us to manage than it is for many,” says Sheryl, “but caring for her is like being on lifeguard duty with no breaks to come down from the chair. It’s so exhausting.” When Hope is at Jill’s House, Sheryl and Bill have a chance to relax and spend time with Grace and William.
“We stumbled upon the biggest gift when we left Chicago,” says Sheryl. “We probably would’ve been willing to move here just for Jill’s House!”