When I sat down to talk to this 91-year-old vibrant woman, Erna (she goes by Anne) D’Amore, about her relationship with the Center for Disability Services and her daughter Sharon, I was intrigued to hear her story.
Here is her story:
Anne and her husband, Bob, a military man, lived in Virginia. In their early 20’s, they had their first child, Sharon. Sharon was born and everything seemed fine until Anne noticed that the other mothers were being brought their babies to feed but no one was bringing Sharon to her. The nurses kept asking Anne about getting in touch with her husband because they said that the doctor had a few questions for them. The doctor then asked Anne and Bob “How fond are you of children?” and “Do you want more?” Bob thought “What a stupid question” and said, “Of course we want more, and we are fond of children”. Anne became concerned about what was happening and at this point, she and Bob both felt something must be wrong. That night the hospital staff told them Sharon needed a blood transfusion, and that she had a rare blood type, and they could not use Anne or Bob’s blood. Bob and the doctor rushed out to the streets and literally started asking people if they had the necessary blood type and if they would be willing to donate blood to the baby.
Sharon received her transfusion and made it through. However, at 10 months old, they noticed Sharon was not doing what other babies her age were. The doctor suggested since they were a military family they take Sharon to Walter Reed. They did, and it was determined that Sharon had suffered brain damage and would never be able to walk on her own or talk.
Sharon was a go-getter from the start and wanted to do whatever the other kids were doing – and usually did, especially with the help of her dad. Anne and Bob had a second child, and Sharon’s little brother received his transfusion right away. Anne has forever felt sad that Sharon did not have that same opportunity of receiving her transfusion earlier, which may have changed the course of her life. Their son went into the military and has lived in Germany for most of his adult life.
The family traveled whenever Bob had a change in duty and even lived overseas for five years. When Sharon was young they visited Bob’s mother in Schenectady and learned of the services provided by the Center. At that time, Bob was worried he may be sent overseas and wanted support for his family. Bob asked the military for a transfer to the Schenectady area and they kindly made the transfer happen to enable Sharon to receive services at the Center. Right away, Sharon started attending the Center’s Langan School located at 314 South Manning Boulevard in Albany.
Sharon lived with her family and the life they made until she was a young adult. In her early 30’s, Anne and Bob decided to move her into a residence operated by the Center. It took Sharon a while to adjust to her life there – which Bob felt was very normal and he worked hard to help Anne understand. Anne has always said “If I don’t expect, I don’t get” with Sharon. Eventually, both Sharon and Anne adapted, and later on when Sharon was in her 40's, she moved into another Center residence, Freihofer House, where she resides today.
Sharon is a jewelry junkie and loves to dance, and according to staff, is often the one in charge. She is happy, easy-going, and healthy. Sharon also attends the Center's adult day program and utilizes Center Health Care services. These Center programs and services bring a sense of peace for Anne. Anne was widowed in 1966 and has been able to rely on and feel the support of the incredible staff at the Center, who have always worked to make things better at life for Sharon.
Anne wanted to ensure that Sharon has everything she needs during her lifetime and also wanted to show her appreciation for the Center which is why she chose to participate in the Center’s Supplemental Pooled Trust. A Supplemental Pooled Trust is an easy-to-set-up estate planning tool that the donor doesn’t have to worry about tax penalties or the management of the Trust. Any remaining assets after both Anne and Sharon pass will revert back to the Center to support the critical programs and innovative services that continue to help Sharon and others throughout their lifetime.
If you are interested in receiving information regarding the Center's legacy society, the Guardian Circle, please click here. You can also contact Kim Heunemann, Director of Legacy Giving, at (518) 832-6113 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.