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Helping Families Thrive Through Challenges: The Healthy Families Orange Program

November 03, 2014

“I probably wouldn’t have my kids with me,” Diane Johnson says with tears welling up in her eyes.

Without the help of Healthy Families Orange at The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, part of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Diane believes she would have been separated from her youngest children after her husband’s relapse.

Healthy Families Orange is a program the Johnson family has turned to for nearly four years. They were introduced to Healthy Families Orange when Diane’s youngest son David was diagnosed with developmental delays and began receiving therapy through the program. “It’s not just about David though, it’s about our family,” Diane adds. “I really like how we all set goals and work together to be a better family.” During David’s first year, the family lost their home.

Their Family Support Worker (FSW) helped get them into the Coalition for the Homeless. “It wasn’t ideal, but it’s what we had to do,” Diane recalls. “It unfortunately made my husband relapse and he was put into a rehab program.”

As if these weren’t enough challenges for any family, Healthy Families Orange helped Diane navigate the child welfare system process to ensure her family’s safety from her previous husband. The children from her first marriage live with their grandparents and she visits them regularly.

With the strong support of Healthy Families Orange and their FSW partnering with Diane’s family through some of their darkest times, they are now thriving individually and as a family. Healthy Families Orange was able to help Diane get back on her feet for her family’s sake. They are now living in an apartment with David and Maya, who just started kindergarten. David has made tremendous progress thanks to regular visits with the family’s FSW.

“The kids really love it when Lissette visits,” Diane says. “She doesn’t just bring projects to work on with David – she brings activities for Maya, too, which Maya really likes. She feels included.”

The whole family is included in the work with Healthy Families Orange. Every three months, Diane and her husband set goals for themselves and for the children. Diane is now attending Valencia College, and is pursuing Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in nursing, before transferring to the University of Central Florida where she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In her first two semesters at Valencia, she has made the Dean’s List.

“They really helped our family,” Diane beams. “Without Healthy Families Orange, I know we wouldn’t be doing as well as we are now.”

The PNC Father/Son Challenge benefits Healthy Families Orange and dozens of families like the Johnsons. You can support this program by purchasing tickets to the four-day tournament at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando, Grande Lakes December 11-14. Use promo code “APMC” to receive a discount. For more information, visit PNCFatherSonChallenge.com

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