Our staff knows the journey parents walk….most of us have walked the journey, too. Call us – you are not alone!
Lucy Cusick, Executive Director, [email protected] “Have Courage – Be Kind” I first found FOCUS after the premature birth of my son Josh. He continues to teach me patience, tenacity, and courage. I believe that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar, but that a little bit of vinegar every day is good for you! When not working, I’m gardening, enjoying yoga, or caring for my Downton Tabbies.
Joy Trotti, Associate Director, [email protected]
“Look for the rainbow after the rain.” I came to FOCUS as the mom of Rachel, our medically fragile child. I’ve stayed, even after her death, because FOCUS is family. I love all FOCUS + Fragile Kids kiddos, and I love to see our families, especially having fun at Under the Stars family camps! When not in the office, I can be found at Lake Junaluska – or hoping to go there soon!
Patty Vastakis, Operations Manager, [email protected]
Like many of the other FOCUS staff, I volunteered for FOCUS before I came on as a staff member. My sister Anna found FOCUS after the premature birth of her son, Nick, in 1989. Our big Greek family surrounded Anna and her family after Nick’s birth, but we never really knew what to say or do. FOCUS helped her find resources and information after Nick was diagnosed with cerebral palsy; Anna was a regular at the Dekalb Share Group and found that she liked helping other parents. I volunteered with her at the very first FOCUS fashion show, helped at the dinner dance, and was then recruited as the office manager. Funny, my biggest fear about working at FOCUS was that I wouldn’t have enough to do … that’s a laugh! Our family continues to support FOCUS, out of gratitude for helping my sister and out of admiration for the wonderful children and families. When not working, I am busy with my big fat Greek family or watching Cupcake Wars and Project Runway!
Jill Gossett, Development Director, [email protected]
Jill came to FOCUS when the Fragile Kids Foundation merged with FOCUS in early 2017. Jill was with Fragile Kids for almost 11 years, writing grants, planning special events, and finding equipment for medically fragile children. At FOCUS + Fragile Kids, she does a little of everything – and helps at programs!
Keena McCurn. Program Director, [email protected]
Keena McCurn, mother of Kendall and long-time FOCUS mom, has joined the staff as the new Program Director. Keena says, “I am so excited to be on board with FOCUS + Fragile Kids! I love to serve in the Special Needs and Deaf/Blind communities by advocating, speaking, training and being a resource to other families. For six years our family was blessed with a special needs child, Kendall, before she passed away last June. I believe it is important to continue to be a resource for other special needs families and look forward to helping FOCUS + Fragile Kids carry out their mission.”
Brian Darden. Program Coordinator, [email protected]
In addition to running programs (FAST Fins, Family Camps, Volunteers, Teen & Young Adult program), I am the director of moving furniture around the office and the emergency IT support, AKA unplugging cables and pretending I’m finding a solution! During FAST Fins season I spend as much time at the pool as I do at the office. When not in the office I can be found running, playing guitar, and binge watching whatever I can find!
Sarah Wigton. Program Coordinator, [email protected]
Sarah joined FOCUS + Fragile Kids in October 2017 and jumped right in! She coordinates Extra Special Saturday respite, day camps Camp Hollywood and Camp TEAM, overnight Camp Infinity and OctoberFest, and is support staff at other programs. Sarah loves anything outdoors and is a great addition to our staff!
Celia Lawton. Community Involvement Coordinator, [email protected]
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” ~ Psalm 126:5
Raising children with special needs is tough—and it takes its toll. As much as you try to stay strong, the tears occasionally fall—sometimes from exhaustion and sometimes from a longing for the “normal” life that you wish you had. But in the end, when you look at your children, and see all their special gifts and their accomplishments, there is a joy you experience like no other. Writing to me is like paint to an artist. I combine descriptive words to give the reader a clear and vivid image of who we are and what we do for special children and their families. I came to know FOCUS through the programs that my children attended when they were young, and after writing business proposals for the private sector for a number of years, it soon made sense for me to utilize my writing skills at FOCUS. On a warm, sunny day one of my favorite things to do is to follow the path of a flowing stream of water while hiking through the woods.
Elizabeth Snarey. Program Coordinator, [email protected]
Elizabeth recently received her Master of Social Work and completed a year-long fellowship program, Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (GaLEND). In addition, Elizabeth is the mother of Michael (MPS II, Hunter syndrome) and a FOCUS mom. When not in the office, Elizabeth can be found eating pizza with Michael, advocating for inclusion, and spending time with people she loves. Elizabeth is excited to journey alongside other FOCUS + Fragile Kids parents.