“Our first big move was in 2000. We left Michigan for Minnesota when our kids were little,” says Sandy Mazza. “It was scary not having family in the new area.”
As her two young boys grew up, they started showing signs of a disability. Their diagnoses of infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy, a progressive neurological disease, requires they receive full-time care and specialized medical support – both of which are hard to find. When her husband was asked to relocate again, Sandy shares, “The idea of starting over with doctors, medical supply companies, therapists, and schools in North Carolina was completely overwhelming.”
The Mazzas set out on their cross-country move from Minnesota to North Carolina knowing they had the support to find critical resources for their family. Sandy was matched with an integration coach, Vicki Prasch, to prioritize her family’s needs, develop an action plan, and build a new life in the new area.
“As soon as we agreed to the relocation, I began the process of getting things in place to transition Nick and Nolan.” Sandy and Greg’s biggest concern was the immediate need to find doctors who could handle certain aspects of their sons’ care. From county services to medical specialists to school programs, Vicki and the IMPACT Group research team jumped into the time-consuming digging required to find specialized services in Charlotte. Vicki connected Sandy to a contact at the Charlotte Mecklenberg Health Department, who turned out to be a key connection for Sandy. “This enabled me to do most of the paperwork over the phone before we left Minnesota,” Sandy comments. This advance planning positively affected how quickly her boys received services once they arrived.
While the resources were greatly needed, a caring and motivating voice on the other end of the line put Sandy at ease during the relocation. “Working with Vicki was my favorite part of the entire process. She helped me stay focused and on target. She took stress off of me so I could put energy into selling our house in Minnesota.”
Vicki got as much out of their conversations as Sandy did. “She was extremely proactive – a real advocate for her sons,” Vicki comments. “Sandy is a hero to me and a great role model for parents of special needs children. It was a pleasure and honor to work with her.” Walking alongside people like Sandy inspires Vicki to do all that she can to meet people where they are in their relocation journey.
“Moving is one thing, but finding the resources you need to make the process smooth is something different,” Sandy shares.
“Integration assistance is crucial for families, especially families with children. Children can often be the make or break decision when it comes to moving.”
Sandy believes Vicki streamlined the process for her family. “She listened to what I needed and found the exact things that would benefit us. She knew what my priorities were. Without her help, the move would have been much more stressful and overwhelming.”
The Mazzas are now meeting new friends, becoming active in a local church, and planting roots in their new home. “We love the weather in Charlotte! It is a welcome change from the snowy winters in Minnesota. It allows our family to get out and go exploring more.” Nick and Nolan are responding well to the changes with the help of nursing students from a nearby college who provide additional care. “This has been a huge part of our successful integration. I recommend other families of kids with special needs or even elderly relatives reach out to nursing students for additional help,” Sandy comments. “Students are eager to learn and gain hands-on experience.”
Sandy can’t stress enough how important it is to get organized and prioritize your needs early in the move. “Be prepared to start over, and determine what is most important to your family right away.” By finding resources, organizations, and local amenities ahead of time, she and her family were able to put critical pieces in place early on in the relocation process so they weren’t delayed once they arrived in the new area.