Aug 8, 2009

Seeing the impact

CI circle started back in the 90's by myself and Karen Biernat. One day in my free time I will actually write how it all came about, it is really quite an interesting story.

In a nutshell we had parents contacting us asking us the same kinds of questions about implants for children. At that time the only groups they had found were not supportive of implants for children and some of these parents had been on the receiving end of some pretty unpleasant stuff.

When CI Circle started, there were 8 original members including Karen and myself, today there are 1963 members! We never dreamed that the group that we started would ever become this big. I guess we didn't really even think that far ahead, we just started the group to meet a need and well, things just happened.

Earlier this year I was privileged to attend the Cochlear Americas Celebration in California, thanks to the support of a very dear friend. So the members of CI Circle going to the conference decided we should meet up for a lunch while we were there. A chance to put a face to those names we see online on an almost daily basis.

So the Saturday came and we headed over to meet for lunch. There were quite a few of us and even a mom who wasn't on the listserv - yet!! She was going to sign herself on when she went back home : - )

While we were waiting for the last of the group to arrive, I listened to many of the parents talk about how CI Circle became their favourite resource, the first place they went to find information - from other parents who had been there before. It was a really neat thought to think that our little group was making a difference for these parents.

So we sat down at the table and we were introducing ourselves around the table. It was quite noisy where we were and so not everything was heard right off the top. On my right hand side sat a mom her young son and we were discussing the other issues he has had to face in addition to his hearing loss. This mum was just so awesome in her determination to get things done for her son, in fact she said her life was pretty much summed up by "life gave me lemons so I make lemonade" - she was totally inspiring! Anyways she was chatting to a few of the other mums and turned to me and said "And who are you again?" I said "I'm Naomi, as in co-founder". She turned to me in her seat, said "thank you" wrapped her arms around me and gave me the biggest, most intense hug I think I have ever had in my life.

Well of course I just lost it! Tears fell. I cried, she cried and I looked up and my dear friend sitting opposite me who had seen the whole thing was also getting teary. She said she wished she had a camera as it was one of the most incredible moments she had ever seen. For the rest of the weekend every time I saw this mom, she looked at me, I looked at her and we would both start to get tears in our eyes.

It is kind of funny, you know you do something because it seems like a good idea at the time and you know there is probably a need for something like that, but you truly don't have any idea of just what an impact that has made for some families. I think it is fair to say that it was truly humbling and one of the most amazing moments of my life. There have been other parents who have also thanked me too over the years of CI Circle but nothing as intense as when this mom hugged me. (Still think of you often, Blonde Zena!)

It is truly an amazing feeling to have been part of something that has developed into this incredible resource and support network for the parents going on this journey.

written by Naomi Higgs