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This week’s installment of the #EPU40 profiles our very own Mary French, one of our favorite Intake Specialists! Mary joined the EPU family 29 years ago when her beloved daughter Sarah was born. She’s been a huge part of the heart of EPU ever since. Read her heartfelt story below!
Tell us your EPU story—how did you get here? How long have you been affiliated with EPU?
I first heard about EPU on October 21, 1988, when a representative of EPU came to visit my husband and I at the hospital, after we were told our Sarah was born with Down syndrome.
At the time I didn’t remember what was being told to me, everything was a blur and all I remember doing was crying. I remember asking the nurses and doctor, How did this happen?” “What did I do wrong?” and “Who was going to help me through this?” The EPU representative apparently was the one that answered all my questions and reassured me that she was going to be part of our support system. Three weeks went by and the EPU representative kept calling me to see how Sarah and I were doing, I always answered her, “We’re doing great!” which was far from the truth. She was persistent in coming to my house, to which I always told her no.
I actually made it in to the center one morning and I will never forget how we were greeted. Sarah was passed around, hugged and kissed and everyone told me “how beautiful she is.” EPU’s staff looked at her with such admiration and compassion, which always made me feel that EPU was where we were supposed to be.
Years later, Sarah and I came by to visit the teachers at EPU. One of EPU’s managers at that time asked me to consider teaching at EPU because I have a B.A. from Fresno State in Early Childhood Education, and had just finished the teaching credential program. She said that I would be an asset to EPU’s program because I could tell my successful story about raising a child with Down syndrome.
It has been an honor to work for EPU for 16 years, I have been able to give back all the love, support and hope that I was given when we first walked through EPU’s doors.
Tell us about your family?
My husband and I are a blended family of four; we have 2 boys and 2 girls. We have been married for 14 years.
What is your favorite part of EPU?
I have created so many friendships working here. Everyone is so nice, helpful and supportive. I love that we help each other because we bring so many wonderful traits to EPU. The one thing we share is the compassion we give to the families we serve, we are all accepting of each family no matter where they are in their journey.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Within the last year, my job title has changed from Early Childhood Specialist, to Intake specialist. I meet with every family that walks through our doors, I’m able to talk to them about their hopes and dreams for their child and tell them my story of how I felt when I was in their position. It’s a very rewarding and enriching experience.
What has EPU taught you?
Working at EPU has taught me to look at life through a diverse lens, with gratitude and hope.