Feb 08, 2012 11:47PM
● By Anonymous
Meet Abby. She is just one of more than 300 individuals throughout Maryland to whom Bello Machre gives life, assistance, and hope. Abby was diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a disorder that primarily affects little girls, in which development rapidly decelerates between 15-18 months of age. Her developmental disability was especially heartbreaking to her family because for the first few years of her life, it appeared as if she was developing normally. At around age two, Abby’s physical and cognitive development began to flat-line. Abby’s family called Bello Machre for help. “When I met Abby in 2008, she was not walking or sitting up by herself,” says Bello Machre Development Director Tracy Lynott. “Today she sits up, she can feed herself with assistance, and she walks with a gait trainer.” Bello Machre helps with payments for Abby’s therapies and helped to purchase her wheelchair so that she could ride the school bus.
Bello Machre, meaning “home of my heart” in Gaelic, provides homes and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities. 170 individuals live in the 54 homes throughout Anne Arundel County, and another 150 individuals receive assistance from Bello Machre within their own homes. “One of the most important services we offer is simply hand holding,” says Dr. Robert Ireland, CEO of Bello Machre. “It can be a long and difficult process [caring for someone with a disability] and we walk them through it, and that doesn’t cost anything.”
Bello Machre was founded by a group of mothers who wanted more opportunity for their children with developmental disabilities. Anne Arundel County granted Bello Machre the land for its original campus in the 1970s, and gave them the land 10 years later. “When our founding families come back and see the growth we have undergone, they are in awe,” says Lynott. The individuals that Bello Machre works with range from high-functioning to extremely dependant; each situation is unique and everything is tailored to meet the needs of each individual. Living in each of Bello Machre’s community homes is a family-living assistant, or women and men who dedicate their lives to caring for developmentally disabled individuals. “These people are truly angels,” Lynott says. “They are unique and special people and to see their determination to make a difference in these people’s lives is extraordinary.”
Bello Machre has bold plans for the future that will even further improve the lives of the individuals they care for. Over time, Bello Machre has learned that purchasing a community home does not always allow for the type of accessibility that those with disabilities need, such as wider door frames and wheelchair ramps. Therefore, they have begun to build homes that meet the needs of those who are living in them. “We want to make sure they have a place to live here for the rest of their lives,” says Lynott.
Each year, Bello Machre holds two fundraising events that bring together both individuals being assisted by Bello Machre and local members of the community. Each June, they present a walk called “Every Step Counts.” Last year, the event raised more than $125,000 and had 250 walkers. This past September, they also held a golf tournament. Each of the employees at Bello Machre has a passion for what they do and superior knowledge of the individuals they help. Each face represents both a story and a journey. “If we were selling a product, it would be love and care,” Lynott says. “That’s our primary mission.”
To learn more about Bello Machre, visit bellomachre.org or call 443-702-3000.