Several years ago, Denise experienced every parents’ worst nightmare – her beautiful and healthy eleven-year-old daughter Deshae suffered a traumatic brain injury and subsequently lost the ability to walk and talk; she was no longer able to recognize her family.
Denise was still in a state of shock while trying to navigate the necessities of her daughters’ new life. After visiting several rehab facilities and always leaving deflated and stressed, she eventually came across Safehaven. She could finally feel calm and hopeful, knowing that she had found something special; a warm, welcoming and safe environment that would become a second-home for Deshae.
When Denise reflects on the past few years, she excitedly talks about the milestones her daughter is reaching. “It means everything – her first smile, her first laugh, the first time she wiggled her toes. It’s like experiencing all of the same emotions I had when Deshae was a newborn.”
And that first smile was a turning point. While home for Christmas, Deshae smiled in her sleep. In that moment, a wave of comfort passed over Denise as she knew her daughter felt happy, safe and loved – all the things that parents want most for their children.
A few days later when Deshae was back at Safehaven, the updates kept coming that she was continuing to smile – it went from once a day, to five times a day, to too many times to count! This meant the world to Denise – she felt at peace knowing that her daughter was in a place where she felt the same level of contentment as she felt at home.
Safehaven is so much more than a respite or residential facility – they care deeply about the kids and are always looking for ways to make them feel special. They regularly plan outings and create opportunities for kids to temporarily escape treatments and therapies, and simply enjoy being a kid.
For instance, swimming was a huge part of Deshae’s life prior to her injury, so the team at Safehaven get Deshae into the pool as often as possible. They also make sure that Deshae never misses a Raptors game – she’s always alert, and often smiling while watching the games.
Safehaven has become Deshae’s home away from home. Denise is grateful for the support, love and compassion that her daughter receives, and will forever cherish the role that Safehaven plays in her family’s life.
Safehaven needs your help to ensure that their clients can continue to meet their Exceptional First moments. As Denise says, “Safehaven is a place where you can trust the staff to care for your child like their own which brings a great deal of comfort to a parent like me. Anything you can give, will make a difference for kids like Deshae”.
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