Looking back to move forward

Linda Kronmiller, former Education Program Coordinator and dedicated volunteer, reflects on her time with DSAGSL and looks forward to the bright future

My journey with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis began in 1998, a year after my son Eric, who has Down syndrome, was born.  We had just moved from the east coast to the St. Louis area and I wanted to become involved with an organization where I could meet other mothers who had children with Down syndrome.

I became a volunteer almost immediately and I have served the organization in many different roles as a volunteer for over 13 years.  My focus has always been (and still is!) on education and best practice for our children with Down syndrome.

My focus on education led me to my role as a part-time staff member for the DSAGSL.  I became the Education Program Coordinator in August of 2011 and I spent the next 16 months working at the DSAGSL office.  I made sure we had the most current books and DVDs in our extensive lending library, coordinated our now famous Down Syndrome Education Specialist Program, our 2012 Bike Camp and coordinated our annual Family Conference – I am so looking forward to the 2013 conference being held on March 2! I know that our families and the professionals that serve our children who attend will gain much insight and knowledge on best practice for our loved ones with Down syndrome.

The graduating class of the 2012-2013 Down Syndrome Education Specialist Program, one of Linda’s many programs through DSAGSL.

We believe community education is critical to ensuring that we are providing current information on Down syndrome to our schools and agencies; I recruited speakers and provided them with the resources they need to present about Down syndrome in their community, in addition to personally making many presentations myself.  I left every presentation feeling that the information I shared was so appreciated by my audience and better yet was going to have a positive impact on the students with Down syndrome in the building and I am so grateful and thankful to all of our dedicated speakers, most of them who are also the parent of a child with Down syndrome.  They have changed hearts and minds, one school at a time – we presented at over 30 schools and agencies last year alone!

As I reflect on my role as the education program coordinator, I am so honored to have talked to so many individuals from our community who had called with questions or who have needed help with a problem that they were having.  I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with each and every person as we worked through their situation and found solutions together. I have now returned to volunteer status with the DSAGSL due to a quickly changing family dynamic.  My daughter is leaving for college and my aging mother needs my support.  I will also be planning for Eric’s transition into adulthood. But, I am excited to welcome Erin Suelmann as our new Director of Programs and Services, who not only brings her professional background of working in the not-for-profit world, but also her own personal experience being the sibling of an adult brother who has Down syndrome.

I am thrilled with the direction that the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis is taking as we move into a new year – our new website,  new and improved ongoing connection to social media, new programs and new staff. I know that the Down syndrome community in the greater St. Louis area will see a bigger and better DSAGSL as we move forward into 2013!