May 28, 2015







Since opening our doors in 2010, Jill's House has provided 476,193 hours of respite.


Only 23,807 hours to 500,000! 



From Grief to Guilt to Sheer Joy
Family Spotlight: Meet the Rileys
Deb and Brian Riley share the joy and pain of caring for their son Tucker. Learn how Jill's House gives them a break from never-ending guilt.

When Deb and Brian's son Tucker was three years old, he had a seizure during the night and did not breathe for several minutes. This caused a severe brain injury that changed everything about him. "He went from being a super-high-energy, happy, bubbly, talking and laughing toddler to lying in a bed for a long time," shared Deb. Tucker, now 11 years old, still cannot walk, talk or feed himself. He needs constant care and has about 15 seizures every day.


In honor of Mother's Day, Deb shared what she loves about being Tucker's mom. With tears in her eyes she said, "Tucker is my only kid I have never been mad at. And when I spend time with him and really play with him, we share these moments of sheer joy." Tucker is a source of incomparable blessing to his entire family, but caring for him is a challenge. 


In addition to Tucker, Deb and Brian have two other children, Sarah (16) and Ethan (14), and before their kids were born they had a vision for what their family would be like. They had ideas about the types of activities they would enjoy together, but raising Tucker forced them to adjust those expectations. Being spontaneous is no longer an option. And hiking, camping or skiing? Next to impossible.


But the Rileys do not just grieve the life they would have had if Tucker was typical. They also grieve the life Tucker would have had. "The sadness continues when I see one of Tucker's peers running around outside, riding bikes or playing soccer," shared Deb. "I'm reminded that Tucker will never do those things. Those moments are tinged with sadness because his childhood isn't really what it should be."


The Rileys heard about Jill's House from a friend who attended McLean Bible Church, and Tucker has been a regular guest at Jill's House since it opened in October 2010. "From day one, I never felt worried about leaving him," shared Deb. "I just knew he was going to be safe and have a great time." When Tucker spends the weekend at Jill's House, his family can be the family they always wanted to be, and Tucker gets a taste of typical childhood. "We know he loves Jill's House because he'll start tapping his legs as we pull into the parking lot," shared Brian. "We can tell he's excited to get there, which makes us feel great about leaving him for a weekend."


Through the challenges of raising Tucker, the Rileys remain grateful for every moment with him and for the many people who support them through Jill's House.


To sponsor a child's overnight stay at Jill's House, email or visit



What Families Are Saying

The picture of my son at Jill's House hugging a pony made me cry (and I'm not a big crier). It is so rare that he embraces anyone or anything. It's just so precious. He told us the pony's name was Silver. Often, he doesn't remember names of people other than those who really connect with him. Thank you so much, Jill's House! Praying God continues to rain down blessings on you all, as He rains them through you to all of us!


Jill's House Weekend Adventures Volunteer Teams

Jill's House guest Isaac and his buddy enjoyed a full weekend of outdoor activities at Jill's House Blue Ridge in Virginia.

In last month's newsletter, we introduced Toby Rowe and gave a quick update on what his team is doing to bring life-changing respite to families impacted by disability across the country. This month, we will re-introduce you to Jill's House Weekend Adventures volunteer trips, formerly known as Oxygen3.


The Jill's House Weekend Adventures volunteer teams are an essential part of our successful respite weekends around the country. These teams of about 10 people join our staff and children for the entire weekend. Each volunteer serves as a buddy to one of our Jill's House guests. Previous experience working with children with special needs is helpful but not necessary because our staff trains the volunteers and organizes the entire weekend for them.


"I honestly cannot think of a better way to open someone's eyes to God's heart for disability," shared Toby Rowe, vice president of National Programs. Through their service, volunteers see disability ministry in action and give families impacted by special needs a chance to rest. Teams walk away from the memorable weekend ready to apply what they learned in their church or community.


Kyle Wilkinson is the youth pastor at New River Community Church in Virginia. After he and 11 of his high school students completed the Jill's House Weekend Adventures volunteer trip, Wilkinson shared, "I got to watch my students be stretched in a new environment. It was amazing to watch them go from being uncomfortable to being very comfortable in just a few hours. It was amazing to see my students jump in with all their hearts." Jill's House is grateful for every team that has given their time and talent to serve our children and families across the United States.
For more information or to view a list of available weekends, visit or email


Director of Family Support Featured on ABC7

Watch this "Working Woman" feature to learn why Dana Hecht admires Jill's House families and is honored to serve them.

This month, ABC7 News featured Dana Hecht, Jill's House director of Family Support, in their segment "Working Woman." Alison Starling, who emceed this year's Celebration of Special Children gala with Scott Thuman, interviewed Dana for the story.


Dana Hecht and the family support team work directly with Jill's House families, connecting them to each other and resources within the community. She works to combat the isolation and frustration that families raising children with special needs often experience. Dana also oversees the Jill's House Internship, Fellowship and Weeknight programs.


As a mother of four, Dana knows the privileges and challenges of parenting. "I feel very blessed that my children are healthy and typically developing," shared Dana. "But even so, there were times I felt very overwhelmed." Dana admires the strength and courage she sees in Jill's House families. "It's a privilege to be a part of these families' lives," says Dana, "and an honor to know these children and take time to look them in the eye and talk to them."


On Sunday, May 24, Dana celebrated her fifth anniversary at Jill's House, just 16 days after the "Working Woman" segment aired on Friday, May 8. Jill's House is grateful to Dana for her years of dedicated service to our children and their families.


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A Celebration of Special Children Inspires Hundreds

The Work family shared what life is like raising their son.
The Work family shared what life is like raising their son.

Almost 400 people gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Tysons Corner on Saturday, May 9, to demonstrate their commitment to families raising children with intellectual disabilities. Altogether guests raised over $916,000 for families, 20% of the Jill's House annual fundraising goal, including exceeding an anonymous $50,000 matching challenge by graciously donating more than $75,000 the night of the event!


As its name suggests, the gala was a celebration of the children and families Jill's House serves, like the Work family. Pat and Mara Work have two children: JP (12) and Sally Ann (10). JP was born with a rare chromosome deletion that resulted in a series of cognitive and physical disabilities. "Nothing is easy for JP," said Mara, "but he's a champion who endures hardship better than most we've seen." After sharing their story, the Works thanked the guests for their ongoing support of their family through Jill's House.


Alison Starling and Scott Thuman of ABC7/WJLA-TV emceed, and Grammy Award-winning country music icon Clint Black headlined the event. The evening also included a special performance by child music sensation Lexi Walker, who performed on America's Got Talent, and the McLean Bible Church orchestra. The Honorable Barbara Comstock, Congresswoman of the 10th district of Virginia, and Dave Melcher, president and CEO of Exelis, Inc., received Light of Hope awards for their long-standing support of people with special needs.


Brenda Solomon shared how God is using Jill's life to bring respite to hundreds of families, and Joel Dillon, president and CEO of Jill's House, invited guests to imagine a "brighter and more hope-filled future for families raising children with special needs."


A special thanks to Robert and Joyce Johnson, executive producers of the gala and co-chairs of the steering committee, for their joyful service to our families through this event. Thanks also to the talented members of the steering committee: Bob and Susie Buck, Randy and Cheryl Byrnes, Rui and Karen Garcia, Dave and Amy Hunt, Billy and Denise Oorbeek, and Wayne and Catherine Reynolds. Thanks also to our generous sponsors. This event would not have been possible without your committed support, generous efforts and faithful prayers.


Everything we do at Jill's House orients around the children we serve, and this event was no exception. We are grateful to those who, by celebrating on May 9, enable us to celebrate special children all year long. Check out the photos of this year's gala. Save the date for next year's gala at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, VA on Saturday, May 14, 2016.


Volunteer Spotlight: Harry Marmer

Harry Marmer, regular Jill's House volunteer, shares why he loves to serve at Jill's House.

An excellent example of joyful service, Harry Marmer has been a buddy volunteer since 2012. Learn what motivates him to serve at Jill's House.


JH: How did you hear about Jill's House?

HM: To explain this, I should briefly explain how I came to faith in Jesus. I was born and raised Jewish but did not practice as an adult. My wife dragged me, kicking and screaming, to McLean Bible Church in 2005. Lon's sermon that morning was the first in a series about the life of Moses, called "The Origins of the Jewish People." I was just interested enough to come back the next week, and I became a Christian four years later. During those years, I studied the Bible and watched the MBC families. I watched the church build Jill's House and realized they were not the evil evangelicals I thought they'd be. So I decided to start serving at Jill's House.


JH: What motivates you to serve at Jill's House?

HM: I serve because the Bible calls us to serve and give back. I serve at Jill's House because I've always enjoyed working with kids. I used to coach my kids' baseball, wrestling and football teams. When my kids grew up, and I stopped coaching, I missed it until I started serving at Jill's House. I enjoy spending time with the kids and staff and always feel recharged at the end of my shift.


JH: Do you have a favorite Jill's House memory?

HM: I have so many memories, but this one in particular stands out. One afternoon, I started walking around the play area with one of the girls in my buddy group. She had been walking around by herself all morning, so I thought I should join her. She couldn't speak and didn't look at me, but I started to talk to her about silly things, like the Redskins and the bow in her hair. I wondered if she understood me or if she even knew I was there. After 15 minutes, just as I was about to leave her alone, she stopped walking. She turned toward me, looked me straight in the face, and then put her head on my shoulder. That simple gesture removed my feelings of unease, and I knew she was grateful I was there.


JH: What would you say to someone considering volunteering at Jill's House?

HM: Do it! I remember feeling nervous my first few volunteer shifts, but I soon realized that these children are just kids. Any time spent with them is time well spent, and you will always receive more from them than you give.
To learn more about serving at Jill's House, email or visit

Local Salon Supports Families by Pampering Moms
Thanks to Claude Marcel salon de coiffure and spa for supporting Jill's House moms.

In honor of Mother's Day, the Claude Marcel salon de coiffure and spa partnered with Jill's House to support the moms we serve. This salon, which Elle magazine selected as a Best Salon and Spa in August 2014, is one of five AVEDA salons in the country recognized for their excellence and has been selected as a training center in the French style, the signature cut and style of Claude Marcel. The salon staff is excited to give Jill's House moms a break, care for them and make them feel beautiful.


Timothy Brockhoff, principal and general manager of the salon, shared the two reasons he is excited to support Jill's House moms. First, he has a background in nonprofit work. Before he opened the salon in 2006, he worked at National Wildlife Federation and Goodwill Industries International. His experience motivates him to use the salon's success to support the local community. Second, his sister has a son with autism. He understands the strain disability places on family life and is grateful for the chance to help alleviate that strain for local families.


"Mothers, particularly mothers of children with special needs, look out for everyone but themselves," shared Brockhoff. "They give and give and give, and at the end of the day they need someone to fill them back up. That's what we hope to do through this partnership with Jill's House."


Jill's House is grateful for Brockhoff and his team's willingness to serve our moms. Their generous gift will directly bless Jill's House moms and indirectly bless their families.
To give to Jill's House, email or visit

Upcoming Events

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 18, 2015

Tour the facility, meet our families and staff, and see firsthand the impact that Jill's House is making on families raising children with special needs.

October 19, 2015

Hit the links with Jill's House at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

For a complete listing of events, visit or
contact Teresa Lee at
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Jill's House | 703-639-5660
9011 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182

CFC #22742 - United Way #8244