GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Every other month, moms in the Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro get together for a night out.
The evenings represent more than an evening of fun for the women, these outings have become a time of reassurance.
“It's awesome because we get to be around these other families and share these stories and it just kind of puts all of your negative thoughts at ease,” Amanda Pinnix said.
Many of the moms can remember initially feeling nervous about challenges a child with Down syndrome may face.
“If you Google it, it's nothing but negative. It’s she’ll never do this, she'll never do that,” Pinnix said.
“You want to protect your child even before they're born and you feel this sense of helplessness because you're not going to be able to do that, but I was wrong about that. It's a lot easier than I thought it would be,” board president Martha Chaires said.
However, through the support of this network, those feelings subside daily simply by seeing other children in the group live productive lives.
Shannon Hines’ son Nick is 17.
The high school student is very much involved in the community.
He has a job and is looking at post-secondary colleges – opportunities Hines didn’t know were possible 17 years ago.
“I had no hopes or anything like that because once you read all the literature, it just seems down and gloom like they're not going to be able to accomplish anything, they're going to always stay at home with you and that's just not the case anymore,” she said.
The network works hard to spread that message through various platforms.
There are family outings each month.
Support bags are made for families who have received a prenatal diagnosis or are in the hospital, and other health care resources are available including information for therapies.
Today, the Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro is serving more than 200 families – that’s significant for the organization’s founder Julie Church.
“It's pretty amazing. I think the word that comes to mind is healing. There’s a healing process involved in serving other families,” she said.
The local Buddy Walk she started is still going strong.