Why PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E.?
Phred was our yellow Labrador Retreiver. She was a beloved family member, and in a way, our first baby. We drove from northern Virginia to western New York in order to pick her up from the breeder, sight unseen, at the age of 8 weeks old.
And oh, by the way, Phred was a FEMALE dog. The name was a compromise between a husband who wanted a female dog and a wife who wanted a dog named Fred. Oddly enough, her kennel was named Fieldstone Kennels. So yes, we had a dog named Phred Fieldstone.
Phred was an amazing animal. I say this not because she was our dog, but because she was amazing. Being a Lab, she took to the water like flies take to honey. Phred understood about 20 spoken words and hand signals. She was able to convert the fear two small children had of dogs (they had both been bitten at a young age) into unconditional love.
Phred had a knack for touching people’s lives. Whenever I was sick, she would not leave my side, literally. She stayed in bed with me, resting her head on my neck when I was asleep. After our daughters were born, Phred let the girls do anything they wanted to her. The majority of the girls’ childhood photos are on top of, next to, or touching Phred. Phred loved everyone and wanted to be loved on. Which brings us back to PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E.
P.L.L.A.C.E. stands for Phred’s Lake Limestone Awesome Camp Experience. The camp is for all parents of children with disabilities. Autism was just our tribute to what Jess, our daughter, was diagnosed as.
Why open a camp like PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E.? We want to touch the lives of other families like Phred touched ours. Families of children with disabilities often go without a lot of things. Their sacrifices are incredible when they are doing their best to help treat and heal their children. We know this first hand. So, why not create a place where families could get away from it all, relax, receive support, and enjoy the great outdoors?
PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E. is for families of children with disabilities to come, have fun, experience new things, be accepted, and loved on. A place where kids and their families are met at the end of a tough morning, day, or night, by their friends at PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E. in a tail wagging and tongue licking fashion. This is what Phred taught us, and this is what we want to share with you.
Jessica is now 20 years old and is attending college. Since her diagnosis in 2000, we can honestly say our lives have been somewhat consumed by her Autism. When Jessica was diagnosed, there was very little information available on Autism. We constantly researched the different protocols on the internet and talked to anyone and everyone who would listen.
We have spent the equivalent of a four year college tuition on testing, treatments, therapies, supplements, etc. Our goal was to not leave any stone unturned. We know what having a child with a disability can do to your family, your emotions, and your social relationships. We realize how important baby steps are over the course of years of development. As a parent, the cost versus care battle is an emotional and stressful struggle.
Today, there is an abundance of information and treatments available. Unfortunately, it is still very overwhelming and confusing. We think back to those early years and tell ourselves, if only we knew then, what we know now. We might have done things differently and we could have saved so much time and money. As most parents know, some things work and some do not. We want to help parents by presenting our experiences with certain treatments, therapies, etc. Networking will be one of the most important aspects of Phred’s P.L.L.A.C.E.
Our hope is to use PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E. to provide families with support and guidance through the maze of having a child with autism. We have obtained a guardianship, applied for Federal and State services and are now working with Jessica to map out her path for future growth. She has applied to a college program and wants very much to work in the field of Culinary Arts.
Unfortunately, as positive as all that sounds, with growth comes a great deal of internal struggle. Appearances aside, Jessica still needs a shadow to help her navigate the hazards an independent life presents all of us. We are currently facing the challenges associated with having a high functioning child that wants to continue to evolve.
We are working very hard on making this camp a reality for the many families out there that need a place to vacation and enjoy each other. Phred’s P.L.L.A.C.E will also provide a safe, encouraging, loving place for qualified individuals with special needs to volunteer and work. We encourage anyone who reads our story to please get the word out about donations and support for PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E. We not only need money to get things started, but we need support once we get things rolling. Having a child with a disability is quite a journey and we hope to help all of those families who need us.
We are proud of the person that Jessica has become. Our hope is that she will open her first restaurant at PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E. She loves amusement parks, restaurants, shopping, horseback riding, swimming, gymnastics, bowling, water parks, camping, staying at hotels, and playing with friends. We thank God for the people who have taken the time to get to know Jessica and who have worked so hard to get her to the point she is at right now. The sky is the limit for Jessica and we consider ourselves very blessed to have had the chance to learn and grow with her.
It has been a very long road, but Jessica is doing great and is on her way to what we hope will be a very successful and promising life.