Raising three children with developmental disabilities would be a challenge for any mother, particularly a single mom.
Yadira Galván balances those responsibilities with a busy, stressful job as executive director of the Family Resource Center of Tri-Cities, where she assists 4,000 families a year.
She feels the hurdles are a blessing.
“I think God gave me my kids for a reason,” Galván said. “I feel like I was blessed with them to be able to help more families overcome obstacles.”
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Galván, 34, raises Diayanesis, 13, Damian, 11, and Joshua, 9. Her two sons are autistic and Diayanesis has pervasive developmental disorder, which also is on the autism spectrum.
She founded the Family Resource Center in 2009 after struggling to find services for her children. She learned it was even more difficult for Spanish-speaking families.
“Basically, it’s all low-income families and children with different disabilities,” she said. “”They have fallen through the cracks, and we help them get aid or financial training on how we can help.”
Each day, she arrives at 8:30 or 9 a.m. and works until 6 or 8 p.m., depending on how much she gets done. The kids come over when they get out of school.
The children are inquisitive and enthusiastic. But Galván said they can have “meltdowns” when things get them out of their routine. Joshua, for example, did not want to cooperate when a Herald photographer wanted to take a family picture.
But his mother knows how to get him on board.
“When he said he’s not smiling, I started tickling him and he grew out of it,” Galván said.
Galván does have a state-funded developmental disabilities provider to assist her in the morning. But her job has been a struggle since she and the children were injured in a 2011 car crash. She suffers from back pain and can’t stand for long periods of time.
“I think people see that I do so much and think I’m OK, but you’ve just got to tough it out and keep going,” she said. “People don’t realize what goes into something and the toll it takes on your children.”
Her two oldest children suffer from depression and anxiety as a result of the accident, Galván said.
“My daughter still gets where she forgets things once in a while,” she said. “She needs me to remind her what to do.”
They also get nervous when someone other than their mother is driving.
“People say, ‘Just let it go,’ but when your son’s head is cracked open and you can see all the way down to his skull, it takes time to recover,” Galván said.
It took six months to get the Family Resource Center back on its feet after the accident while she recovered from the crash. It later closed its former location and was without an office for two years until it opened a new location in March at 3321 W. Kennewick Ave.
The center continues to struggle. It’s trying to get state and federal nonprofit status to make it eligible for grant funding, board member and volunteer Randy Grady said. But until then, it needs more money and volunteers. It also faces high operating costs on the building it leases.
The children are now becoming involved with the center. It’s been a learning experience for them, and they want to help and give back to the community, Galván said.
“It’s been a challenge, but it’s rewarding,” said. “My daughter wants to help teach loom classes.”
Galván hopes that people will change their views on people with disabilities.
“I think a lot of people judge without knowing,” she said. “They just need a chance to be able to see what they can truly do.”
The Family Resource Center sees an average of 30 to 40 families per week, but gets more visitors when it has special events like yard sales and Christmas gift drives.
It all means there has been little time for Galván to celebrate Mother’s Day the last three years.
“I’m always busy, with no money,” she said. “Anything extra I’ve got goes to the center.”