Dec 11, 2019

Abby’s Story

By Brian Woods

Wayne and Susan Johnson lived most of their married life in Harligen, Texas. Wayne grew up in South Texas and Susan was an “Army Brat” and lived all over the place – Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, etc. even Germany. They have three girls, Emily who is 38 and lives in Liberty Hill, Texas with her husband and two sons; Rachel who is 36, lives near Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and four children; and Abby who is 34 and lives with us here at the Mary Lee Foundation.

After marriage Wayne worked as a loan specialist, farmed with his brothers, worked as an Associate Pastor/Worship Director for a local church and after moving to Austin taught special education life skills. Susan was a stay at home mother when the girls were small and then went back to work as an art teacher. Wayne has since retired and Susan is currently teaching art drawing and painting in Austin.

When Abby was born, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Cri Du Chat syndrome. Cri Du Chat, sometimes called cat cry syndrome, is characterized by intellectual disability and delayed development, a small head size, low birth weight, weak muscle tone and distinctive facial features.

After Abby graduated from high school at 22, the Johnson’s looked for a living situation where Abby could live and be served.  They wanted her to be able to be as
independent as possible.  They had signed Abby up for Texas assistance living programs about 10 years earlier and two weeks prior to graduating high school she was accepted into the Home and Community Based Services program.  Wayne and Susan found the Mary Lee Foundation to be an inviting and safe environment for Abby.  After meeting Leigh Dunson, Southpointe Director, and a short trial visit, Abby had found her adult home.

Moving Abby to the Mary Lee Foundation was a leap of faith for Wayne and Susan.  Once they saw all the services provided and the activities that Abby has been able to participate in (Special Olympics, Best Buddies, trips to the museum, ballet, parks, etc.), they knew they had found a “gem”.  The biggest comfort that they found was that Abby was happy.

The Johnson’s have been big supporters of the Mary Lee Foundation.  The Foundation isn’t reimbursed for trips, activities, home furnishings, technology, all important aspects to their clients’ quality of life.  In the past year, Wayne and Susan have raised over $1,500 through Facebook fundraisers. “The organization always needs additional funding to fully support their clients”, says Wayne.  Wayne has also recently agreed to join the Board of Directors. “Abby loves it here, and I’ve grown to love the staff and clients over the years.  I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a Board that can help improve the quality of life of its clients.” says Wayne

If you would like more information about the Southpointe Program, please call (512) 442-6077.

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