Wendy and Max Doloff
June 9, 2015
To whom it may concern,
My name is Wendy Kozik Doloff. I am resident of Lackawanna County for 43 years. I am a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Scranton, obtained master’s credits in Psychology and have several certificates in Photography. I am currently employed in the Health Care industry as well as volunteering my free time at Mountain Sky. I secure local artists and painters to exhibit in our indoor facility, work with our merchandise as well as donating my photography services. I am married and a mother of two amazing boys who also spend their free time volunteering at Mountain Sky. My oldest gets upset if he cannot go with his parents to Mountain Sky. Yes he is 16. This unfortunately has not always been the case with his brother.
My youngest son, Max is clinically diagnosed with a deletion on the P16 chromosome, which is the genetic link to autism; he has ADHD and suffers from learning disabilities and a seizure disorder. Max has struggled his entire life with social and learning issues and was barely verbal until the age of 7. As a result, he was in six different school placements resulting in poor self esteem, lack of acceptance from peers and severe behavioral issues. He was non-compliant when asked to do work and would easily frustrate. He ended up as a homebound student until the campus of New Story opened in Dunmore. After a few years, he was on the verge of having to be removed from yet another school due to his issues. We would average 7-10 phone calls a week from the school. In social situations, Max was unable to tolerate noise; he would put his hands over his ears and beg to go home. Max could not be out for a long periods of time without melting down.
Fast forward to the fall of 2013, we felt with the vast area that Mountain Sky offers along with the family friendly environment we would introduce Max. He hesitantly joined us for the Halloween celebration. He enjoyed the campfire; the hay rides and was then ready to go play with his DS in quiet spot but enjoyed it a lot. He talked about going back in the spring.
Spring and Summer of 2014: He started volunteering and worked for a short time cleaning up branches and age appropriate duties prior to the first event. He was ready for spring picnic. He loved meeting all of our guests and helped out at the gate taking tickets. He was involved but away from the action and would walk around. As the summer progressed, he made friends with the other children, met all of the vendors and did whatever type of volunteer work he was able to do consistently at every event. One day he decided he wanted to sell some pins for one of the vendors so he could purchase a sweatshirt since his allowance was already spent. He learned how to work for what he wanted; communicate with other staff members without getting frustrated, learned how to interact with new people as well as receiving a lot of music therapy and was introduced to many different types of instruments. Most importantly he gained so much self-confidence and an “I can do anything I put my mind to” attitude. He realized how likable he is and put his new skills in action at school. He thrived for the first time in his life at Mountain Sky.
He returned for the 2014-15 school year and has been a role model in his class with his positive attitude and constant encouragement from his Mountain Sky friends and family that he kept in touch with over the winter. He achieved student of the month in January of 2015 and I only received 2 phone calls this entire school year. He talks to the counselors about Mountain Sky all the time and his new love of music. (No more hands over the ears) After consulting with the school team, he no longer requires a TSS worker or services from Scranton Counseling. Every spring we count the days until our fishing vacation over Memorial Day, this year he counted down the days for spring picnic at the Mountain. Mountain Sky has changed our family. Thinking about the profound effect this amazing environment has on my child brings tears to my eyes; the thought of telling my son it is not happening is heart breaking. Max would really look forward to meeting all of you and was recently dubbed by our local ice cream man the Mayor of Mountain Sky.
Wendy Kozik Doloff