Smarties, we are so happy to introduce you to Isabel Owen. She has been “mominated” by several friends in the Smarty community and some of the words to describe her are; amazing, multi-taking mommy, amazingly organized, driven, compassionate, heavily involved and caring. She is the single, working mom to three boys and two have special needs. She is a CMS teacher, advocate and she puts actions behind her words. I am happy to introduce, Isabel Owen.
You are in a very busy time of year. Not only are you the mom of three but you a very involved volunteer. Can you please share more about your involvement with the Autism Foundation of the Carolinas and your work with special needs children in CMS?
I, along with other parents of children with autism, started Autism Foundation of the Carolinas in 1996. We believe that our special children are here for a purpose – to inspire us…to motivate us… to “step up” and make a difference by providing support to families in our local area who are dealing with autism. We embrace our children, and try our best to see their “uniqueness” as a true gift. Our children teach others about differences, that we are all part of this community, and that each and every one of us has enormous value.
Our strategic focus is to provide opportunities to fully integrate individuals living with autism into our society and recognize their unique abilities, gifts, and talents. Through our inclusion-based programs we provide opportunities for our special children to teach patience, tolerance and understanding to our non-affected community. In turn, the non-affected community has more respect and acceptance for those who are different. In addition, we make our early intervention programs accessible and affordable to all families, particularly those in economically challenged circumstances.
My work with children with disabilities with in CMS is a pleasure. As an “ex banker”, I feel very blessed to have the chance to experience a different opportunity in the work place. I receive much more than I give – who could ask for more?
What drives your passion for these projects?
One thing I have learned over and over is that the Lord puts you in the place He wants you at the exact time He wants you there. I believe with 100% conviction that my special children (I have 3 awesome boys – 2 have autism) are here with me at this very time and place in my life to clarify my purpose. God gave me firsthand knowledge of the blessings and challenges surrounding people with disabilities. It is my responsibility to take this knowledge, and to use it – really use it in service to the Lord. I do these projects in honor of, and out of respect for my children.
As a mom, what do you think is the most important thing you can do for a special needs child?
I believe the ultimate gift that any parent can give any child, and children with disabilities are no exception, is a sense of self-worth. To help our children achieve a true sense of self-worth, we must help them to feel a daily sense of accomplishment. We must let them know that they are a valued as a family member. Most importantly, we must let them that they are a child of God.
What is your favorite family time activity?
Our Sunday afternoon “Adventure”, whatever that might be. Sunday’s are family day in our house, and we pick different activities, and always refer to the afternoon as an “Adventure”….adds to the excitement for the boys. My favorite would be when we drive to the lake, and find an outdoor restaurant with music and just enjoy each other and the afternoon.
Favorite mommy-time activity?
Exercising – I’m really into walking these days. And appetizers followed by movies with friends.
Favorite lunch spot sans kids?
This rooftop restaurant I stumbled onto in Charleston recently. Think it was on top of the Venue Inn.
Favorite place to score kids clothes and shoes?
So glad you asked!!!!
Another of my favorite projects is our annual Children’s Consignment Sale at Myers Park Presbyterian Church. April 14th this year. Great infant and children’s clothing, furniture, toys, car seats, maternity clothes, and all kinds of accessories. We put a great deal of effort into having a large amount of high quality inventory, displayed in a clean, organized fashion. All proceeds go to support local ministries.
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Taco Mac wins this hands down. Great food – casual – always a sports event to watch – and the kids get Oreos with their meals!
Favorite boys/girls after school activity?
Honestly a tough one. Working full time means that my children are all in after school programs. We have been blessed to find great programs. Our activities are evening and weekends. And I cherish every one. Favorite as of recent is watching the boys trying to learn the piano. My brave mom is teaching all of us!
Best book you’ve read lately?
Younger Next Year – cliff notes are to eat well, value and put effort into social relationships, and keep moving!
The Hunt for Red October and The Notebook
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
“But mom….if we get a bite to eat on the road, we’ll get run over!”
Best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
I’ll be honest. Birthday parties are fun, yet I’d much rather have an impromptu party with adults and children “just because”. That’s what life is all about. And no presents are involved.
Favorite date-night spot?
I’m a single mother, with no recent experience in this category. Please ask again down the road!
Best summer tip to hang with your kids?
North Carolina beaches – we love Holden Beach. Or a Disney Cruise….They do a top notch job of accommodating children with special needs. Like none other I’ve seen.
Minivan or suv?
SUV all the way!
Favorite Smarty phone app?
Favorite CSP article so far?
I have to say I enjoy the entire section, Smarty Scoop on Weekend Activities. I am always looking for something new and fun for us to do. Thank you!!!!!
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
The Actor’s Theater of Charlotte. Local talent and a quaint, personable venue. I advocate picking a friend you don’t get to see much and buying season tickets (VERY reasonable). Meet before each performance at the theater on Stonewall, and walk to a local restaurant before the show. Lots of fun, and really supports our local community.
I could not live without my…
Exercise, music and dark chocolate covered almonds