Father and daughter play together in living roomAs we mark the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Attainable Savings Plan in Massachusetts, it seems like a perfect opportunity to reflect back on the parents, organizations, and stories I have been touched by as I’ve traveled the Commonwealth sharing information about this program. Attainable provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities and their families to save in a tax-advantaged savings account for disability-related expenses, and MEFA serves as Attainable’s state sponsor. As a mom of a daughter with special needs, I understand the day-to-day struggles that other parents in my shoes deal with, including the navigation of insurance coverage and the search for resources that fit your child’s needs. The most valuable information I have learned personally has been from parents who have dealt with similar challenges and sought to find their own path in their journey to do the very best for their child. Someone once said to me that a journey is like building your very own resource quilt, each quilt sewn is unique, and no two will ever be the same. In MEFA’s work with Attainable, we hope to provide families with a reliable and impactful and resource.

In the past year, MEFA has given a total of 39 Attainable seminars: 26 to families or parents of individuals with disabilities and 13 to staff members of organizations who serve individuals with disabilities. The most rewarding seminars for me have always been the parent-focused ones. I can relate to their daily worries and their worries for the future. We share so many commonalities, no matter what the disability might be.

I recently gave a Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) seminar for a Vietnamese parent support group at DotHouse Health in Dorchester. It has been my most rewarding seminar to date.They welcomed me with warmth and gratitude as I spoke about the benefits of an Attainable Savings Plan. They were curious, asked detailed questions, and were excited to now have this savings tool as an option in building their own resource quilt. Oanh, a representative from FCSN, translated the entire presentation ahead of time for attendees and supplied printed copies for everyone. We had been able to talk prior to the seminar about our daughters, and I know we both felt connected. Even with slightly different stories, we still share parallel lines on a map.

Another event that was particularly rewarding was the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) conference. It was their yearly conference and included both exhibiting vendor tables (Attainable being one) and breakout information sessions for parents and families. I was lucky to be able to attend the luncheon, which was not only an awards ceremony for those making a difference in the Down syndrome community, but also an opportunity for anyone touched by someone with Down syndrome to share how their life has been enriched. I heard the story of an older brother sharing why having a younger Down syndrome brother has made him more reflective in how he views the world and himself. He described how he can get frustrated easily when things don’t go his way, but he has learned a lot from his younger brother, who never views a situation negatively, and openly embraces every interaction with positivity, a smile, and a big heart.

As we continue to get requests for Attainable seminars and visit cities and towns all over the Commonwealth ranging from Boston to Framingham to Lawrence to North Adams, I feel fortunate to be able to share all of the benefits of the Attainable Savings Plan to families and organizations, and even more fortunate to hear the stories they all have to share as they sew their own version of their quilts for themselves or families they serve. If you would like to schedule an Attainable seminar in your community, please complete our online seminar request form. And if you have questions about Attainable, please call us at (800) 449-MEFA (6332).