It is with deep appreciation for the time, commitment, and passion of our dedicated advocates and volunteers that Feeding Matters is launching a monthly Q & A series. They help with events, participate on committees, and coach in our Power of Two program. The advocate and volunteer spotlights will share the stories of our growing network of change agents, the driving force behind our vision to create a world where children with pediatric feeding disorder will thrive.
Cathy Humphrey has been a parent coach since 2012 and a member of the Family Advisory Council since 2016. She shares her knowledge and compassion as a parent coach, sitting on committees and has contributed to our open source blog.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from New Mexico and have lived in Wyoming, Oregon, Washington State, and Idaho before moving to Phoenix in 2001. I’ve worked for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management since 1981 as a geologist, a planning and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) lead, national training coordinator, and currently am a collaboration specialist. I’m married to Manolis Kritsotakis, a retired sailor from Crete, Greece. We met while my sister and I were on vacation in the Greek islands. Our daughter, Maria, is sweet, beautiful, complicated, an only child, and a tremendous joy to be around. She’s now 13, is in 8th grade, is a cheerleader on the only certified Sparkle Effect team in Arizona at Hillcrest Middle School. The Sparkle Effect is a national organization that works to integrate students with high special needs on to cheer teams. Maria was born with hydrocephalus, which caused significant brain damage, resulting in a lovely young lady with cerebral palsy who can’t talk or walk or see or chew and swallow too well. In addition to volunteering with Feeding Matters, I’m also a volunteer with Raising Special Kids and represent parents of children with disabilities on the Arizona Special Education Advisory Panel, established in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
2. In which volunteer activities have you participated?
I’m part of the Power of Two and I’m on the Family Advisory Council. I’ve helped with a couple of conferences, I’ve gone to several conferences. I’ve taken training, including when it was P.O.P.S.I.C.L.E., we’ve gone to hockey and baseball games with tickets for volunteers, we’ve been a guest at the BatCave as nominated by Feeding Matters.
3. What motivated you to become involved?
Of course, like most of the volunteers (I assume), I got involved because of my daughter having feeding issues since birth. The classes I took were very good, high quality, and had a similar philosophy as I did (don’t force feed, start with any success no matter how small and build upon that). There was no shaming (blended diet vs formula, breast milk vs formula, g-tube vs no g-tube), it was a very supportive environment. I don’t remember exactly when or why I started volunteering. I’m sure seeing Chris in action had something to do with it – her professionalism and integrity. Everyone has always been so warm, welcoming, thankful, and supportive. All these things are attractive to me and make me want to give more. Of course, being a volunteer is therapeutic and helps me as much as, I hope, I’m helping the other parents/ caregivers I talk to.
4. What has been your favorite part of volunteering with Feeding Matters?
The relationships, the support, the opportunities (tickets to professional games, going to the BatCave was so cool), but most of all I really enjoy connecting with other parents and being able to share some of the experiences our family has had. Hopefully being able to give another mom (usually it’s a mom) permission to relax, and to feel ok about what they’re doing, and maybe giving them a few ideas of different things to try. I’ve met some of the parents and been able to connect face-to-face, which adds a different dimension than just connecting on the phone or by email or text. It’s been gratifying to speak with people from different cultures and different areas of the country or even from other countries to brainstorm things for them to try with their children.
5. In your opinion, what sets Feeding Matters apart from other organizations?
It’s a small and mighty organization. They are very professional, caring, striving for acceptance in the medical field, reaching out to medical professionals, not just parents. I appreciate the non-judgmental stance they have. I appreciate Chris, and the other employees – they’re all great! They have very high integrity. Integrity, honesty, professionalism, and striving for excellence, striving to do better, to help more kids and more parents– those are all very important to me.