Ahhh Napa …
I love the long drive leading to this enchanted destination, where smiling faces and warm greetings meet you at the door. It’s a place where the burdens of life melt away and suddenly the day seems full of lightness, hope and absolute possibility. At Napa, positivity flows freely, quenching the thirst of all the weary travelers passing through…
As much as I have thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting excursions of my past, I am not actually referring to wine country here at all. NAPA stands for Neurological and Physical Abilitation and it is a place we are blessed to visit each and every week.
Although the 110 freeway isn’t quite as scenic as the winding roads through wine country, it is every bit as beautiful to me. Because I know that this road takes us to a place where my son is lovingly cared for and encouraged to be everything that he can be. At Napa there is no skepticism of what he is capable of. There is only positivity and hard work from therapists filled with the gift of passion for their chosen profession. It is a place where we can share in smiles and laughter on our highest days and be lovingly supported on our lowest. It’s a place where passion and playfulness are perfectly married, molded into an individualized approach that best supports each warrior’s unique abilities.
Here we are surrounded by families that look just like ours and although we are from all walks of life, we have in common an undying commitment to our child’s journey.
I first heard about Napa when Oliver was just one year old. Everything I read sung praises of this amazing place and I desperately wanted to bring him there. But the early years just presented too many hurdles.
Although Napa is just 18 miles from our home, the abundance of Los Angeles traffic often makes those 18 miles last over an hour. For the first year and a half, Oliver screamed and frothed at the mouth whenever he was in a car seat so a drive like that was out of the question. NAPA wasn’t included in our HMO network and financially it was an impossibility at that point. But ever so slowly, things began to fall into place.
We received a small settlement from Oliver’s birth injury and put all that we could into therapy at Napa. He was finally on his way. The first intensive was pure bliss. It was a one-week spring break session and Oliver and his therapists were perfectly matched. He loved it; just as I had always dreamed he would.
The second intensive was harder. The treatment plans challenged him more; it was three weeks instead of one, and in the end, he got sick and missed the entire last week. But we kept trying. We kept going back to this place that I felt could give him so much.
Throughout the next year, Oliver completed two more intensives and when the last one came to a close this past January I was heartbroken, knowing that our savings was spent. More determined than ever to make NAPA a regular part of our life I began searching for a way to make this our reality. And then the stars aligned.
Through some persistence, many conversations and an unbelievable amount of luck, our school district agreed to send Oliver to NAPA for all of his IEP clinic-based therapy needs. We started with four hours a week this winter and we are now up to eight and, honestly, it feels like we have won the lottery.
My thoughts and feelings about how far Oliver will progress, go up and down like the tides as my energy ebbs and flows. But his therapists here never seem to share my struggles with faith. They come to the mat or the table each day with a fresh, positive attitude and unwavering dedication, ready to support him in everything that he is. I couldn’t possibly put into words how much it means to me that they hold this space for my son when I am not able.
Many days I leave NAPA feeling like I’ve just attended a motivational seminar or a weekend retreat. Here my cup is refilled with the belief that we are moving in the right direction. We are progressing. We are doing everything we can to give Oliver everything he deserves.
I wish I could give every special child on earth the opportunity to be surrounded with a support network like the one found here. The NAPA Center is truly an oasis of hope on this long journey towards acceptance, healing and growth.
To discover more about this amazing place, please visit their website by clicking the Home link below
To contribute to The Napa Kids Foundation whose mission is “to provide financial assistance for children with disabilities, so that they may develop to their full potential,” check out