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December 15, 1997

Features

Dream becomes a reality for Children's Country Home

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photo by Deborah Stone

by Deborah Stone
   Children's Country Home officially opened its doors last week with an open house at its Hollywood hill location in Woodinville. The non-profit pediatric group home is designed to provide short and long term care for children with special health care needs, as well as provide support to families through teaching, networking and referrals. The Home offers respite care, transitional care support, medically complex care and end of life care in a therapeutic and nurturing environment.
  
   Three years ago, Mary Shemesh, owner of Acute Care, Inc., came up with the idea for Children's Country Home. She had seen a number of parents struggle with care for their medically fragile children, desperate for support, both physically and emotionally. She also understood their needs for respite care, but knew that there weren't any facilities in the area that were able to provide these services. Her dream was to create a special high quality place to meet the needs of these children and their families. Shemesh soon joined forces with partner Andi Bailey and they put their plan into action.
  
   In August 86, they acquired the house and land in Hollywood Hill and began turning their dream into a reality. "It has been a busy and exhausting year, but very fulfilling for all of us working on the Home," says Shemesh. "We have been so fortunate to have had the outpouring of help. Without all the volunteers and donations, the Home wouldn't exist." Over one hundred volunteers, from Scout troops to high school students to local businesses and community organizations, donated their time, expertise and equipment to help get the house ready. People adopted rooms in the house, either by contributing financially to their refurbishing or by completing the physical labor themselves. The latter involved painting, staining, laying carpets, doing tile work, installing fixtures, etc.
  
   At times, there were frustrations and difficulties, as well as negative reactions from the neighborhood to contend with, but the women persisted with their plan. "We care very deeply about what we're doing and kept this in mind throughout all the problems," says Shemesh. Persistence and devotion to their goal, along with continued support from many people helped them complete this project. "I've now observed much positive change in community reception," states Shemesh. "It appears that attitudes have been turned around which is great."
  
   Children's Country Home can accommodate up to ten children, from infancy through eighteen years of age, and will be staffed around the clock with nurses and a social worker. The five bedroom, three bathroom house sits on one acre of land and is tastefully decorated, mainly by the talents of the Home's primary RN, Linda Wright-Rathke. The rooms are warm and cozy with much natural light. Different combinations of colors and patterns are used for each room and there are wonderful special personal touches, like stenciled mats, hand embroidered pillows, wall art and colorful quilts, showing the care that was put into making the place welcoming and inviting. There is a living room, dining area, kitchen and family room, as well as a bonus room, equipped with toys and a large screen TV, all donated items.
  
   Outdoors is a sports court and a wheelchair accessible garden and potting shed. "A gardening program will be one of the activities we hope to involve the children with," says Shemesh. "It'll be fun for them to help plant and tend to the garden." The Home already has a waiting list of individuals who have expressed interest and have eagerly been awaiting its opening. With its doors now open, Children's Country Home can finally begin to provide a well-needed service to the community. For more information about Children's Country Home, call 483-3303 or 1-800-473-3303.