April 30, 2015








Since opening our doors in 2010, Jill's House has provided 468,267 hours of respite.


Only 31,733 hours to 500,000! 



The Difficult Life They Would Not Trade
Family Spotlight: Meet the Larson Family
Take a moment to experience the Larson's world to better understand why Jill's House is so important to them.
Take a moment to experience the Larsons' world and better understand why Jill's House is so important to them.

A hard-working dad, a PTA-soccer mom, three kids and a baby in tow, the Larsons thrived in the thick of family life and parenthood. They were a typical, busy, northern Virginia family. Fun was an essential ingredient in their day-to-day lives, and they looked forward to all they hoped the future held. All this changed when their four-month-old son, Bridger, missed several developmental milestones.


The love Bridger's siblings have for him is anything but typical.

Special families call it the "diagnosis year". It's a year of doctor appointments, testing, therapy and endless hours in the hospital. It's the year your life falls apart as you search tirelessly for the reason your child can't lift his head or roll over.


After Bridger's diagnosis year, his mom, Cindy, received a call from his geneticist. He told her that Bridger's condition would result in physical and mental disabilities, that he'd never walk, talk, eat on his own or take care of himself. "I had no words when he finished talking," said Cindy. "I just stood there in our den with the phone in my hand. My world was spinning, and I was totally stunned." After the geneticist hung up, Cindy called her husband, Alan, and delivered the life-changing news.


Alan and Cindy share the weight of parenting so their kids know only joy on their journey together.

Bridger has an extremely rare condition called congenital disorder of glycosylation type 1A. It's so rare that it's difficult for doctors to describe what Bridger will be like as he grows up. "That's been one of the hardest parts of this diagnosis," shared Cindy. "Every person holds some idea of what their future life might be like. But Bridger's diagnosis forced us to give that up. We can't anticipate the future, so we try to live one day at a time--a practice that's been helpful on this journey together."


Now nine years old, Bridger lives with a host of symptoms of his condition. He has seizures, poor vision, behavioral issues, an irregular sleep pattern and a quick gag-reflex. He's not non-verbal as his doctors predicted, but his ability to communicate with words is very limited. He has autistic tendencies and struggles with sensory integration. He uses a wheelchair, eats through a feeding tube and needs constant supervision. "Bridger gives us empathy for all children and families with special needs," said Cindy. "From physical to intellectual disability, we understand the challenges."


Cindy first heard about Jill's House at a committee meeting for moms raising children with special needs. At the meeting, Dana Hecht, Jill's House director of Family Relations, explained the Jill's House model of respite, and Cindy immediately scheduled Bridger's first weekend stay. "I barely slept at all that first night Bridger was at Jill's House," said Cindy. "All night I had one eye on my phone, waiting for the text that something had gone wrong, but it never came." Read more.


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What Families Are Saying
My son turns eighteen next month which means this weekend will be his last stay at Jill's House. Of course, we're sad to say good-bye to the staff who have faithfully served him and our family all these years. Our son has many wonderful memories of all the time he spent at Jill's House on the weekend respites, day camps, summer camps and proms. He has a photo collage frame hanging on his bedroom wall. They are pictures taken at Jill's House on various occasions. His and our favorites are those of him and Titus, the golden retriever service dog. We're grateful for all the hard work you all put in to serve families like us. God bless you all!

Expansion Efforts Gain Momentum Under New Leadership

Sam loved his weekend at Jill's House Lake Arrowhead. His confident smile says it all.
When we opened our doors in 2010, no one could have guessed that we'd reach full capacity by 2012. If we've learned anything in the past five years, it's that overnight respite is a great solution to some of the greatest needs of families raising children with disabilities.

By God's grace, we've served over 500 families and provided nearly 500,000 hours of respite. But there's still so much work to be done. It's estimated that there are 2.8 million families in the U.S. raising two or more children with a disability. These families need rest, and we're committed to give it to them through Jill's House Weekend Adventures (formerly known as Oxygen 3).

The program is similar to the weekend respite program at Jill's House. Parents still get two nights of respite, but, instead of staying at Jill's House, their children stay in cabins at rented Christian camps. Jill's House guests enjoy traditional outdoor activities, like a high ropes course, archery and canoeing, and their parents get the break they need. The weekend is organized and supervised by Jill's House staff with the support of a local volunteer team.

These programs are not just effective. They're also portable and cost-effective. We currently offer Jill's House Weekend Adventures in Virginia, Maryland, Texas, California and Indiana and are constantly working to expand the program, so that every family in America raising a child with a disability will have respite within reach.

Toby Rowe, our Vice President of National Programs.
Toby Rowe, a new addition to the Jill's House team, is steering this nationwide movement. In each location, he works with churches, childcare providers and supporters to provide weekend respite to families in their area. "This is one of the best parts of my job," said Toby. "I get to connect a variety of people and then watch them accomplish something as a team they could never imagine doing on their own."

Toby also leads the effort to bring Jill's House programs to new locations. His goal is to establish Weekend Adventures within driving distance of every family raising a child with special needs. "In a God-honoring way, I want Jill's House to become a household name for families in the disability community," said Toby.

Before he came to Jill's House, Toby worked for an organization called Group Mission Trip, for which he helped plan hundreds of mission trips for church groups across the country. Before that, he was a youth pastor for 15 years. We are incredibly grateful for Toby and for the experience and vision he brings to our National Programs. Read more.
For more information about Jill's House Weekend Adventures, visit or email


Wonderfully Made Art Show

Mike Garvey (left) and Richard Fink (right) admired Christopher's art at the Wonderfully Made art show at Touchstone Galleries in Washington, DC.
On April 23, 2015, Jill's House partnered with Bear Givers to host Wonderfully Made: An Art Show to Benefit Jill's House at Touchstone Galleries in Washington, DC.

The event, sponsored by the Richard & Mary Fink Family Foundation and Koch Industries, Inc., featured original art created by the children Jill's House serves. The event also featured art created by District Attorney General Alan Wilson, Charles and Charlie Koch, Scott Badesch, Evander Holyfield, Doug Williams, Yolanda Renee King, Brad Corrigan, Dominique Wilkins and Joe Scarborough. The art was sold and 100% of the proceeds were given to Jill's House.

The art show offered a unique opportunity to the Jill's House children and families. "For many of our children, having their artwork showcased like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and means so much to their families," said Denise Daffron, vice president of advancement at Jill's House. Read more.


The Big Band Dance Raises Much-Needed Funds

At the dance, Jill's House parents, Joel and Heather Tower, shared what respite means to their family.

On Saturday, April 11, 150 friends and supporters of Jill's House danced the night away to the exciting sounds of big band sensation Radio King Orchestra. In the ballroom of a private home, guests enjoyed a light dinner buffet, silent auction and dancing instructions from Flying Feet Enterprises.


Each year, the dance raises much-needed revenue, and this year it raised nearly $55,000 for Jill's House! Many thanks to those who attended and danced in support of our children and families.


"The dance was a success," said Sherlene Bradbury, Dance Committee member. "The guests enjoyed themselves and learned about what Jill's House respite means for families raising children with special needs." Check out our photo album of the event.


Thank you to our Diamond Sponsors at Carnival, and to our Platinum Sponsors at Apprio. Thank you to our Gold Sponsors, Jack and Donna Hughes, Amstutz Family Charitable Trust, Morningstar Foundation, Team Network and Quest Jewelers. Thank you to our Silver Sponsors, Bob Korzeniewski and Jerry Demuro, and our Bronze Sponsors, Fred Justice, Movement Mortgage and Brenda Klimavicz. Read more.


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A Listening Ear and a Generous Heart
Their shared heart for children with special needs motivates Jim and Debbi to give their time and treasure to serve Jill's House families.
Last month, Jim and Debbi became Mr. and Mrs. Rekas. Debbi is a special education teacher for Fairfax County, and Jim is a faithful supporter of Jill's House. Both bring into marriage a desire to serve and support families affected by disability. This month, we had the privilege of learning what motivates Jim to support Jill's House.

Several years ago during a service Jim attended at McLean Bible Church, Pastor Lon Solomon, co-founder of Jill's House and Jill's dad, described the challenges and blessings of raising a child with a disability. He also shared the Jill's House story and asked the church to prayerfully consider supporting Jill's House with their God-given gifts. "I was absolutely blown away by the Jill's House story," said Jim. "I went home that night and signed up to sponsor a child."

Jim's motivation to support is strengthened when he watches the Jill's House family videos and reads the family stories. "Their stories are so touching, especially if you're a parent," said Jim. "I have three typical children and know the challenges of marriage and parenting. I can't imagine how much more difficult life would be if one of them had an intellectual disability. I don't know how the Jill's House families do it, but I'm glad for the chance to support them as they do." Read more.
To sponsor a child for a night, visit or email


Volunteer Spotlight: Richard Pierce

Long-time volunteer shares what the children at Jill's House have taught him about patience.

Richard Pierce has been a Jill's House volunteer since we opened in October 2010. He serves almost every week as a buddy volunteer, playing with the children and assisting the childcare staff. We're grateful for his faithful service and excited to share his volunteer story with you.


How did you hear about Jill's House?

I'm a regular attender at McLean Bible Church, so I first heard about it before it was built. At the time I was a volunteer at MBC's day respite program, and I really enjoyed it. I liked working with the kids, and was touched by how grateful their parents were. So when Jill's House opened, it seemed a natural thing to add Jill's House to my volunteer schedule. 


What have you learned through your service at Jill's House?

When my wife and I were raising our boys, I expected them to do what I asked of them right away. But when I started to volunteer at Jill's House, I quickly realized that would not be the case. At Jill's House, when I ask a child to do something, and he doesn't want to do it, I have two choices: back away from the request for a while and ask again later, or ask differently, in a way that will make the child want to obey. This practice in patience and flexibility has made me a better grandparent. I don't think my grandkids realize how lucky they are that I've had this experience. Read more. 

To learn more about serving at Jill's House, visit or email

Upcoming Events

May 9, 2015

Join us at the Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center for an evening of inspiration at this black-tie event honoring the courageous families and children Jill's House serves.

June 6, 2015

A 100-mile motorcycle ride through Northern Virginia raises funds to serve more families. Includes breakfast, lunch and a day of fun and inspiration.

October 19, 2015

Hit the links with Jill's House on October 19, 2015, at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm! More information about the tournament available soon.

For a complete listing of events, visit or contact Teresa Lee at
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Jill's House | 703-639-5660
PO Box 9104
McLean, VA 22102

CFC #22742 - United Way #8244