Mar 28, 2013

Women Helping Women collects toys, games to help Aspire moms help their children

Children and toys go together like mommies and hugs. But when children are disabled or developmentally delayed, playtime with mom becomes much more than recreation and relationship; it also becomes therapy.

That’s the way it’s seen at Aspire, a remarkable local organization supporting families of children with developmental delays and disabilities. But with a client list of nearly 400 children each month, there is always a need for more toys, games and craft supplies to go around.

Women Helping Women intends to help fill Aspire’s closets and shelves. The not for profit organization has been selected to partner with WHW at its Spring Mix-and-Mingle on Thursday, April 25, at Lloyd’s Chicago. Attendees are asked to donate new toys, games and craft supplies.

Hosted biannually by the women attorneys of Chuhak & Tecson, WHW is an after-hours networking group blending wine and hors d’oeuvres with business development and philanthropy. Each mixer benefits a different not for profit organization that serves women—or, as in this case, women and their children.

Stacey Bromberg, a Chuhak & Tecson principal, will give opening remarks at the event. Bromberg’s practice in estate, trust and guardianship administration provides her with the opportunity to work with disabled adults and children to assure that they have access to appropriate housing, education, respite care and other necessities.

“With a large part of my practice focused on assisting disabled individuals in all aspects of life,” she said, “I am honored to be paired with such an important organization as Aspire. Their business is somewhat like my own—to help these same amazing individuals aspire to reach their goals in life.”

Aspire accomplishes its mission by showing parents how to provide therapy for their own kids.

“What we believe makes us a leading organization is the whole philosophy of understanding how children develop in the context of their families and how we help families understand their children’s strengths and needs,” said Kathy Ruffulo, vice president of children’s services.

“This allows parents to further their children’s learning well beyond the weekly hour of therapy that they get from Aspire,” she said. “There are a lot of places that do therapy. Most have parents in the waiting room or leaving and coming back later. That’s not what we do.”

Founded 53 years ago by a support group of 10 families, Aspire serves children from six weeks to 14 years of age. Many are delayed due to premature birth; others have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or other genetic disorders. In addition to children's services, Aspire also offers programs for adults with disabilities, providing residential options, life skills training and employment opportunities.

Toys and crafts such as Mr. Potato Head, hula hoops and Play-Doh, and games such as Battleship, Thin Ice and Twister, can be instrumental in children’s play therapy. An Amazon Wish List is available for women to shop online before the event, and other suggested donations include glitter, stickers, stamps, washable paints, Legos, wooden puzzles, play money, puppets, bubbles and personal journals.

“It is extremely gratifying to host WHW events such as this which bring together women from various professions, all sharing the same goal of reaching out to others,” Bromberg said. “I am particularly looking forward to this Mix-and-Mingle, where we will directly help women help their children. Aspire prides itself on much the same thing—not only on helping disabled individuals, but also on supporting their families.”

Ruffulo also draws a connection between the goals of WHW and those of Aspire.

“It’s a perfect match,” she said, “because it’s women helping women. The majority of the people we work with here--the majority of the women--are moms.”

Two or three moms of Aspire children will be on hand at the upcoming event, and Ruffulo will give more detail about the organization.

The Spring Mix-and-Mingle will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lloyd's Chicago, 1 S. Wacker Dr. If you would like to receive an invitation, please contact Katie Walsh at (312) 201-3447 or