Happy Retirement Loreena!

North Central, NW, and River Valley Parent Mentor Loreena Hegenbart is retiring! She has been with The Center for Exceptional Families for almost a decade! We are honored to have worked with her and wish her an amazing retirement. We are forever grateful for all the help she has given to school staff, community leaders, children and adults with disabilities and their families. She leaves us with these parting words:

The time has come for me to say goodbye to you. I have enjoyed these 9 ½ years working with The Center for Exceptional Families. This organization has given me the opportunity to travel across Arkansas, visit wonderful communities, meet, instruct and encourage parents who are great advocates to be better. I hope through encouragement that they can identify their child’s strengths, weaknesses, hobbies and dreams for their future. My goal for them is to impart a dream for their child and build upon it. I wanted them to share with the administration, their child’s teachers and people in their communities these ideas. I hope that the parents and school administration saw that TCFEF is a bridge for them to use to help with communication, emotions, advocacy and teamwork. Thank you, parents, teachers, administrators and LEAs, for the opportunity to be present. You all have taught me a great deal.

When I began this journey, I had no idea what to do other than sit in an IEP or 504 meeting and just “read the room,” add my opinion, give TCFEF information and move on to the next client. I believe I left a little bit of me behind and received a little bit of everyone I met. My heart is grateful, joyful, and a little sad. I know that my departure with my awesome colleagues is bittersweet, but I have grown to love each one of them. This TCFEF team has unique qualities that create a wonderful mosaic of skills, ideas and talents. I am forever grateful to Shelby Knight for giving me the opportunity to be me. The experiences in advocacy challenged me, caused me to be creative, to be silent and thoughtful.

As I begin a new decade of my life, I do not think I will stop sharing my experience with people I meet. I will direct them to a group of people who have their back. I have so many trails to travel, waterfalls to see, and new dance steps to learn. I plan on taking my son to all the 52 state parks and finding out how accessible they are. You may find us on YouTube. I plan on writing a book, maybe now will be the time. Look for it in a few years. “On tour with Eysiah, every day is a new adventure.” I had a wonderful adventure with TCFEF and this organization will always have my heart. -Loreena

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