Kat and her husband live in Redding, California, and they have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren. Dylan (32) is their youngest child and is Deaf. She is currently the Executive Director at Rowell Family Empowerment of No. California, a non-profit, IDEA funded Parent Center that provides support, information and training to families who have children with diverse abilities. Kat works as a Parent Links Mentor for families who have Deaf or Hard of Hearing babies in Northern California. There are 10 Parent Links Mentors in several communities throughout California reaching out to parents who have a Deaf/Hard of Hearing baby and help them navigate their way along the journey! Kat also is the Northern California DHH Family Camp Director for California Hands & Voices.
Kat writes: My journey into the Deaf world started so many years ago. I met my best friend, Toni, when I was in Jr. High School. Her first born son, Jamin, was born Deaf. I supported her navigation through some of those very early systems. When Jamin was 12 years old I had my youngest son, Dylan. At age 8 months, Dylan got spinal meningitis and as a result could not hear. She became my support person! I had learned SEE sign then because the medical field told me that he would need this to learn to read and write. Well, as life went on I learned so much more! I continue to learn more everyday! I appreciate all the friends, the Deaf people and the professionals who helped me find my way! My son, Dylan is 32. He is a Chef and working in Washington, D.C.
Newly Elected President: Apryl Chauhan
We began our journey in 2001 just prior to the New Born Hearing Screening launch in our local hospital. My first born was not identified as deaf until she was two years old which set my husband and I on a fast pace, learn as much as you can-as quickly as you can, adventure. We were fortunate enough to immediately be connected with a Parent Links Mentor and to this day I credit that experience as being a great part of my daughter's success. Having a connection with another parent raising a deaf child was truly priceless and from that connection I learned the power of parent to parent support.
For many years I served on the board of California’s IMPACT organization, working closely with a variety of professional, medical, educational and cultural organizations supporting families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. For four years I also worked as a Parent Links mentor in Southern California, making those first contacts to parents with newly identified babies, and providing the same level of compassion, understanding and support that I was so fortunate enough to receive in the early days of my own daughter's journey.
The many parents and professionals I have worked with over the years have greatly impacted our families experience, however I feel most grateful to our connection with the Deaf Community. From my very first interaction with a deaf adult, to all of the painfully slow conversations I struggled with in American Sign Language, our family has been embraced and supported by the community. We have been fortunate enough to meet incredible role models for our daughter and have made lifelong friends who openly and positively continue to guide and support our family.
Because of our cherished connection with the Deaf Community you can find both our deaf and hearing children on various modeling, TV and film projects. Our family’s story was featured in the novel “Far from the Tree”, and recently our daughter has gained notoriety with the success of the Deaf Film Camp music videos, such as Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” which has over a million views on YouTube!
Now that my daughter is fifteen it's the perfect time to jump back into the world of parent to parent support. Although I well remember the early days of not knowing what to do or where to go turn, I now have more tools and more years of experience under my belt. Our family has experience in both mainstream education as well as the school for the deaf. We know what it means to work hard on speech development as well as learning a whole new language and culture. We have looked at every educational, technological and communication opportunity out there and took advantage of many of them, believing that there is no one way, or only way for our daughter. Exploring has given us a unique insight into the many avenues parents find themselves on.
I'm honored to take on the role of President for California Hands & Voices and I look forward to working with families all across this great state, supporting each other, sharing our thoughts and ideas and working collectively towards the same goal….successful and happy children.
Newly Elected Vice President: Cora Shahid
I am deeply moved by the expression of confidence from the California Hands & Voices board, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am also immensely grateful to my family for their support over the years and the encouragement to accept the volunteer role as Vice President.
My husband and I live in San Diego with two of our three children. Our oldest daughter now lives out of state with her family; including our precious granddaughter. Our two boys are the reason behind my passion for Family to Family support. Our older son (now in Middle School) was identified at birth through newborn screening and our younger son (now in 1st grade) was identified at the age of 13 months old. Both of the them have a moderate-severe hearing level and are mainstreamed in our neighborhood school. They primarily use spoken language to learn, express their dreams, experiences and their desires with their family, friends and the community. When our son was 9 years old he took an ASL class at Palomar Community College (He got a A!) and I worked as an interpreter for 4 years at Wichita State University before moving to California in 1995. Like every other parent, we naturally want all of our children to grow up to love and be loved, to follow their dreams, to find success. Both boys enjoy soccer, science, Boy Scouts, hiking, camping, school, friends and.... Oh, and we cannot forget Minecraft!!!
I always felt like it was my responsibility to give back to parents who are also on this journey because of the connections, resources and education that was provided to our family from our Early Start team and Parent Links. From 2005 - the present I have been honored to volunteer with IMPACT, Parent Links and California Hands & Voices performing a variety of tasks including: Parent Mentor, Membership Chair, CA H&V DHH Family Camp planning committee registration chair etc.
I look forward to the opportunity to take on this new challenge as Vice President for California Hands & Voices!
18th Annual DHH Family Camp Southern California - Registration is NOW Open!
Register today for the 18th Annual DHH Family Camp Southern California. DHH Family Camp is held on Friday, May 26 - Sunday, May 28, 2017 Memorial Day Weekend at YMCA Camp Marston in Julian, California. DHH Family Camp is an opportunity for families with children who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing to come together in a supportive environment. Come to Family Camp and discuss issues related to raising children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Families from all over California, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado attend Family Camp each year! We look forward to welcoming you this year!
• Learn from each other's experiences and share information
• Build lasting relationships for the entire family
• Focus on family issues and strengthen communications
• Discuss issues in a "spirit of inquiry"
Important Dates to Note:
*Register Early - Cabin space is limited
*Family Camp fees are due at the time of registration. (To pay by check please contact us)
*Close on April 15th (earlier if we fill to capacity)
*Arrive at DHH Family Camp as early as 4pm on Friday May 26th
*Volunteer applications accepted until March 30th
We look forward to seeing your family at the 18th Annual DHH Family Camp!
New Website! Thank you Ross Manges and David Whittaker!
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California Hands & Voices is a parent-driven, non-profit Organization dedicated to supporting families’ choices in language, communication modality and methodologies without judgement.