Rebecca’s Eye Update

 10495368_701624589896460_5240139491851284042_oThank you to everyone who donated to Rebecca’s Eye Benevolence Fund!  She has had Corneal Cross Linking done on both eyes with great success!  Thank you to Dr. Bermudez here in Alpine who diagnosed the problem and to Dr. Ramirez at Buena Vista Eye Care in El Paso who performed the procedure as part of a national FDA study.  She was the only known person with Down syndrome accepted into the study!

The procedure seemed to be moderately pain free, after the first couple of days with some light sensitivity and dryness to deal with.  Rebecca is a trouper and never complains.  Her vision has improved slightly from 20/80 to 20/50 and we hope that the procedure will ensure that her vision stays at 20/50 and does not deteriorate any further.

Again, thank you for supporting Rebecca!

Please support Special Athletes!

Our successful bowling team in Austin

Our successful bowling team in Austin

Special Athletes in Alpine are gearing up to travel to El Paso for Spring Games.  They will be competing in basketball, track and golf.  The Gathering Place is selling raffle tickets for $10.00 to raise money to help the athletes travel to El Paso.




The prizes for the raffle are:

1.  A Mini iPad

2. A wreathe of your own choice of decorations

3.  A beautiful painting of Big Bend

To buy a ticket, contact one of our athletes or coaches

Thanks for supporting people with disabilities!


Smiles, that’s what it is about.

Living with a disability can be hard. Grief, stress and other factors can be difficult on families of a person with disability leading to depression, guilt and isolation. Without a good support system, families suffer alone, especially as the person with a disability ages.

The Gathering Place of the Big Bend has been working to reach people with disabilities and their families for several years. The fiercely independent West Texas culture seems to encourage isolation in families with disabilities. Many families here seem to feel the need to bear the burden alone. They have no need for “support groups”.

Last night, St. James Episcopal church, led by Ginger Hillery, blessed the community by once again reaching out to the disabled community and their families. Some of the parents were able to drop off their adult children so that both the parents and the adult children are able to have a night out alone. The adults with disabilities need to have a place where parents aren’t hovering, and the parents need a break from the 24 hour responsibility of parenting a person with a disability. There were many smiles and much laughter.

Joyce Holman Page, founder of the Gathering Place of the Big Bend is passionate about building a community of family and friends who can work together to provide outlets like this. She comments that if you want this kind of community, you have to go outside of Alpine to find it. She and her daughter travel annually to National conferences to experience this kind of support. Cheyenne, mother of two sons with autism recently experienced this kind of support on a cruise for families with autism. Sharing experiences with others who are dealing with disabilities is extremely encouraging. Planning events for people with disabilities that meet their needs brings smiles to the faces of those people who are usually forgotten.

Last year, some parents began working to build a Special Olympics team for people with intellectual disabilities. It has been slow, but there are now 6 athletes participating in a few sports. Special Olympics can be another part of the community that supports families and individuals with intellectual disabilities. Not only are the athletes involved in a healthy activity, but there is camaraderie and time to socialize with new friends. When the team is recognized by the local community such as being involved in parades, or written up in the newspaper, the athletes become part of the larger community as well. More smiles every time someone says Hey, I saw you in the paper! You are famous!

If you know of a family who has a person with a disability, please encourage them to get involved with the Gathering Place community. If you would like to become a part of the community that supports people with disabilities, please contact us or follow us on or call Joyce at 432-294-4028.

Changes coming to the Gathering Place

The Gathering Place board of directors have decided to re-evaluate the services of the Gathering Place.  We are closing the office located on 7th st in Alpine and trying to assess the needs of people with disabilities and their families in Alpine.  We will still be available to help with referrals and advocacy by appointment.

We are hoping to continue to provide social activities for our consumers by focusing on the upcoming Independent Special Olympics team.  Special Olympics provides not only sporting opportunities, but social gatherings as well for all ages.  If you are interested in Special Olympics, please let us know by responding to this email.  We will let you know when the team is forming.

We will also be focusing on getting a better understanding of the needs of our community.  We want to know how we can serve people with disabilities.  Please come out to our booth at the Big Bend Health Fair on Saturday,  Oct 5 at the Alpine Civic Center where we will be handing out surveys.

In the meantime, University Baptist Church is starting a ministry to the disabled.  If you are interested, please contact Pastor Mark at UBC at 432-294-2165.

Watch for the Livin My Dreams Art Studio and Joyce’s office to be moving to the front of the building where our artists will get more exposure.

Thank you so much for your continued support of the Gathering Place!

Joyce, Mark, Jerry, Bob, Randell and Francie

Gathering Place Summer Events

The Gathering Place booth

The Gathering Place booth

The Gathering Place Monthly Meetings
General Meetings – 1st Monday of every month
Board Meetings – 2nd Monday of every month
Art Classes
Friday June 21, 10 am – 12 pm
Tuesday, July 16, 10 am -12 pm
Thursday, Aug 15, 10 am – 12 pm

Sign Language
Mon-Fri July 1-5, 10 am – 11 am
Mon-Fri August 5-9, 10 am – 11 am

*Art and Sign Language classes at the Gathering Place – there is a suggested donation of $5.00 to cover expenses. (Not Odessa Community Ed)

Monthly Special Events
Amazing Amigo Summer Kickoff   Saturday, June 8
BBQ Friday July 5, 5:00 pm BYO Meat and side dish.  Eddy’s house 710 W Av E
Dinner / Movie Friday, August 23, 6 pm – 9 pm at University Baptist Church

More to come…
Sign Language Class through Odessa Community College starting in July.  Register at
Hike to 2nd pool at Camp Mitre Peak Girl Scout Camp

Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast
Saturday, September 7 9:00 am      More details to come…

A Great Resource for School age Kids

These are some great events held in Midland.  If we have a group of 6 or more, we can bring these topics (and more) to Alpine!

Pen Project Region 18 Events
June 8th- Transition to Adulthood

This workshop will provide parents with IDEA transition requirements for a student with a disability preparing for life after high school.  We will cover important aspects of transition planning, information typically included in a transition plan, how transition plans are developed and by whom, and resources for more information on transition.

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX
10:30 am-12:00pm

June 8th- Solving the Employment Puzzle for Youth with Disabilities

This workshop will provide parents and youth with practical, hands-on strategies to help reach a student’s employment-related transition goals.  Participants will learn about post-secondary services that are available and how to obtain them.

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX

June 29th- Parent Leadership Training

What is Parent Leadership Training?
Parent Leadership Training is a program designed specifically for parents of children with disabilities.
It is based on research and a movement toward facilitated Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meetings.

What Does Parent Leadership Training Include?
Leadership Skills, IDEA Information, Understanding the Procedural Safeguards, IEP/ARD Components, Transition, Early Childhood Education, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX
To Register for the Parent Leadership Interest List go to

July 6th- ARD Process
This workshop will provide an overview of the ARD process so that parents will be prepared to participate at every stage of the process.  Participants will gain an understanding of the ARD meeting agenda, as well as their procedural rights and responsibilities.

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX
10:30 am-12:00pm

July 6th- Overview of Procedural Safeguards
Procedural Safeguards ensure that children with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public education.  This workshop will introduce the most prominent rights and responsibilities of children with disabilities and their parents, along with the rights and responsibilities of public agencies.

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX

July 13th- ABC’s of IFSP’s

Early Childhood Intervention Services are based on an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Workshop participants will gain an understanding of what an IFSP is and the purpose it serves for infants, toddlers, families and Part C providers.  Learn what necessary information should be included in an IFSP.

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX
10:30 am-12:00pm

July 13th- Transition from ECI to Public School
Learn what you need to know about the process of Transition from ECI to Public School and the difference in services between IDEA Part C (Birth to     age 3) and Part B (Ages 3 to 21).

Midland County Library
301 W Missouri Ave Midland, TX

August 3rd- Special Needs Symposium and Resource Fair
More info to come

Joyce Page- Advocate and Parent of a Special Needs Child. Joyce will discuss how she helped her daughter gain independence. Joyce will provide useful insight and information on the community resources and other programs she     utilized throughout Becky’s journey.

Becky Page- Young Adult & aspiring artist, living the typical life of a 20 something & doing it independently. Becky, will talk about her life & how awesome it is living on her own. Oh, and Becky just happens to have Down’s Syndrome.

Randell Keith Resneder M.Ed- Executive Director of Texas Disability Awareness Programs. Come hear how Randell accomplished academic and professional success, followed his dreams, and inspired so many others. Despite having multiple disabilities due to Cerebral Palsy.

Joanne Mundy- DSHS -Specialized Health & Social Services Coordinator- will provide information about the various resources available in our community

First Presbyterian Church
800 W Texas Ave Midand, TX

August 19th- Is your Child a Target of Bullying?

This workshop will provide participants with a practical understanding of what bullying is and the impact it can have on children with disabilities. We will learn about the different types of bullying, intervention strategies and     the role that adults can play in the prevention of bullying.

Greenwood ISD
2700 FM 1379 Greenwood, TX 79706
8:00am -10:00am and again from 1:00pm to 3:00pm

For more information or to schedule your own workshop, contact:
Amanda Chandler
Region 18 Coordinator
Partners Resource Network, Inc.
PEN Project

Calling all kids and their families with disabilities!

The Gathering Place booth

The Gathering Place booth

This summer, The Gathering Place is working harder to reach out to kids with disabilities and their families.  So far, we have not had the volunteer power to do much for the younger crowd, but we have added to our ranks and are very excited to be able to put on events with an emphasis on kids.

To start out the summer, we are having a BBQ / games / dance on Saturday, June 8 at the Hillside Baptist Church at 4:00 pm.  We will have a short time of dancing from 7-8 pm for those die hard dancers like my daughter… you might know her… For a flyer about this event click here …Summer Kickoff

We are also planning a couple week long sign language classes, art days, a movie night, and hopefully a couple of days to meet and enjoy the summer together.

These activities are designed to create a support group of sorts for the families in the Alpine area who have disabilities in the family.  Unfortunately, the activities are not “drop off” your kids, but hopefully, families can get to know each other better.  If someone does not need supervision, there may be activities they can go to alone.

We hope that we will be able to meet several families this summer and be able to provide much needed support and information to those with disabilities.

For more information, email