GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — For families impacted by disabilities, Molly’s House offers rest.
A three-bedroom guest home within minutes of Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Tender Ones Therapy Services, the space was created by Ryan and Abigail Burle to offer respite to families who, like themselves, travel far and wide for specialized services.
As parents of 5-year-old triplets impacted by disabilities, the Burles spend anywhere between 10 and 16 weeks of the year traveling to cities like Philadelphia, Austin, Tulsa and Toronto for services — and those expenses rack up fast, Abigail Burle said.
“We started finding not only were we drowning in bills from the medical and therapy expenses but the cost to travel (and) the cost to pay parking somewhere every day,” she said. “Those are things that are not sponsored, usually, by grants, and never by insurance. So, a lot of families are really limited on settling for the care that their child gets or not being able to do the care at all because they truly cannot afford the additional costs that having a child with disabilities has.”
According to her research within the disability community, the average family with a child who has a disability spends 22-30% of their annual income on these expenses.
To help ease the burden of those seeking services in Gainesville, the Burles launched the nonprofit Love Your Story to provide a place for families to stay at no cost to them.
“We just saw a need, personally, in ourselves and had been (the recipients of) some generosity by some other people — like traveling to Texas, somebody offering us a house, and we were like, ‘Wow, this was such a place of rest for us physically, but also rest financially that a lot of families aren’t given,’” Abigail Burle said. “And that’s what we wanted to create here in our community.”
According to Burle, Gainesville has become a bit of a “hub” for families seeking neurological rehabilitation and other therapies via TOTS. The organization houses four different therapy intensives: physical, occupational, feeding and constraint-induced movement.
Speech and aquatic therapies are also among the services TOTS provides.
Molly’s House already has five families on the books, with the first slated to arrive June 4 from Asheville, North Carolina, for a three-week intensive therapy. Other families are traveling from Memphis and Franklin, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, Florida.
Love Your Story/Molly’s House is awaiting IRS approval for official 501(c)(3) nonprofit recognition, a process that can span anywhere from six to 27 months, Burle said.
In the meantime, the initiative is being sustained through “grassroots fundraising” and seeking monetary donations of $100 or less, which will be tax deductible after approval is granted. Then, the organization will be able to accept grant funding as well.
Burle’s goal is to fundraise $30,000 annually to maintain the house and provide more amenities to its guests. Eventually, she’d like to operate several houses, potentially in different states, to serve even more families.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “I think everybody wants to turn some sort of suffering they’ve had in their life into a well of joy. Well, this is it. This is what we can do.”
In addition to financial support, the immediate needs for Molly’s House are “anything you would need to make a household run,” Burle said.
Those interested can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate a donation.
“Our biggest thing in creating this has been (communicating to) families that are impacted by disabilities: You are not a burden. You belong. Your kids belong. There is a place for you. We see you,” Burle said. “I know a lot of people in the disability community don’t feel seen. They don’t feel heard. We see you, and not only do we see you, we want to create a space where you can belong. I really hope this spurs people feeling that they’re able to come here and rest (physically) and also that they’re able to rest financially from something that was thrust upon them.”
To learn more about Molly’s House, visit loveyourstory.us.
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