For Austin and Lisa Walsh, connecting to Little City has meant connecting to their daughter Jodi in deeper ways. Before coming to Little City in 2018, Jodi’s longest phone call with others was 30 seconds and the communication with her own parents became so shorthand because of their familiarity that there were rarely full conversations.

After graduating District 214 and coming to Little City four years ago, Jodi’s world opened up and she did too, especially when coming to the residential program in 2021 where she learned to live with new people and create new routines.

From discovering Special Olympics basketball to choir, Jodie has immersed herself in the programs and services you help provide all year long and she has made new friends, developed more skills, and become a social butterfly – which has greatly improved her communication.

“Our good friends and family who have seen her now notice the change right away and it’s the first thing they mention,” Lisa said of her daughter’s social skills. “She would never talk on the phone and now we FaceTime 10 or 15 minutes regularly. She’s gone so long she’s had to stop herself to tell us she had to go because it was dinner time.”

Austin said he credits his daughter’s growth to the environment that is supported by donors just like you. He said being around older peers, especially where she lives now, has helped her mature and learn new things where she would have otherwise not needed to adapt.

Seeing those results has inspired Austin and Lisa to become dedicated volunteers of Little City. From helping with special events to regularly donating, the Walshs have found ways to help Jodi’s community be the best it can be.

It is in their unique skills where they have enjoyed giving back the most. Austin is a passionate gardener who volunteers at the Dorothy Rose Horticulture Center generally two days a week to help the program in any way it needs. It also helps Jodi knowing her father is close by so often and in exploring a new hobby.

“I could never even get her to hold a watering wand but somehow they got her to try working in horticulture and it worked,” Austin laughed.

Lisa also has essential skills to help our vibrant community as she is a retired occupational therapist. She said while she is not always the best person to train her own daughter, she is interested in helping make improvements that can help everyone in the homes and beyond.

“We wanted to support her wherever we decided to go, but Little City has made that easy,” Austin said. “She knows we’re part of the community and we know how important it is to work as a community rather than set her and her friends adrift.”