Pastor Gary Meeks and his wife have been married for 31 years and have two grown children. In December of 2007, they became foster parents to Sarena, who was just two days old. Ultimately, the Meeks adopted Sarena, making her a permanent member of the family.But life was not so straightforward for Sarena, and the odds were stacked against her from the start.
Sarena was born blind – a condition her doctors said was going to be permanent. She was born cocaine positive. She suffered from tremors and her sleep patterns were very erratic. At times the challenges looked to be insurmountable. But Sarena was about to surprise everyone. A few months after coming to live with the Meeks the tremors stopped. A few months after that, her sight was restored .
Although Sarena proved the doctors wrong she still had many more obstacles to overcome. Developmentally, she was about three months behind other children her age. She was struggling to roll over, crawl and walk. She had severe sensory issues. She would panic when things touched her skin. She was claustrophobic – to the point that even riding in the family car would send her into a panic. Any time she was around more than a few people at a time, she became frightened and overwhelmed.
Sarena entered the Early Intervention program at Community Partnerships in 2009 and immediately began Occupational Therapy with Cherie Newton. Cherie began working with brush massage to help Sarena overcome her fear of being touched. She also worked on Sarena’s sensory issues, social skills and claustrophobia.
As Cherie incorporated different therapy techniques, she also taught Pastor Meeks and his wife how to use them between therapy sessions.
“The difference between Sarena now compared to when she started the Early Intervention program is night and day,” says Pastor Meeks. “No only is she is now hitting age-appropriate milestones, she is surpassing them. Community Partnerships and Cherie Newton have made a profound difference in our daughter’s development. God bless you. For you not only touch lives, you change lives”