Marissa’s 10th birthday party was a fun celebration. It was a summer-themed event complete with sun hats and shades, pink flamingos and a beach-inspired cake. What made Marissa’s party extra special was that her guests were encouraged to bring a donation to Matthew’s House as an option in lieu of a gift.
“There is nothing else Marissa really needs besides love, so I thought it would be a good idea to take the opportunity to surround her with friends and possibly raise some funds for Matthews House,” says Reta, Marissa’s mom.
Matthew’s House is a special place for the Buchanan family. It is designed for special children like Marissa who live with complex care needs. Matthew’s House provides care for children so that parents have an opportunity to take a break, rest and rejuvenate. Marissa enjoys her time at Matthew’s House.
It’s like a vacation for her. She enjoys the beautiful playground and the fun play areas they have for children.
Reta Buchanan, Marissa’s mom
During spring break, Reta and Trevor were able to enjoy a worry-free holiday in Mexico knowing that Marissa would be well looked after. Because Marissa lives with complex care needs, she requires specialized care. She was born with a heart defect that required surgery when she was just 6 months old. Despite the fact that she lives with Global Developmental Delay, Reta describes Marissa as “a fighter” who is strong for her size. She learned to walk when she was 5 years old. She is still non-verbal but because they have seen progress in other areas of her life, her parents are hopeful that she’ll learn to talk as well.
“I still stand back and just watch her walk and am amazed that she achieved this goal. Marissa has many challenges to work on but we just keep at it and she continues to surprise us.”
Reta has appreciated Matthew’s House so much that she’s chosen to find ways to give back. She decided to try her hand at volunteering and began by taking part in one of the fundraising events held in the community.
“What I enjoy most is meeting new people, so this is a great fit for me,” she says. “I recently volunteered at the Kid’s Carnival at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre and my job was to help with the mini-golf. Come on, how much fun is that?”
It costs nearly a million dollars annual to keep Matthew’s House open. The home is financially supported through a partnership between government and private donors. The majority of this support comes through fundraising events and gifts from generous givers. Reta and Trevor wanted to find a way to give back financially as well and Marissa’s birthday party seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“I just really felt that I wanted the party to be more about fun for her and some friends and less about gifts. Kids really get so much today and special needs kids get lots too,” Reta explains.
The party raised $240 but more than that, it was a chance to have a great time with friends and celebrate the life of their daughter.
“She really has taught us a lot. Although it’s been a struggle for us, she makes us value life and not take things for granted. She is amazing.”