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.
We are pleased to announce that Kim Lechner, is our newest Family Advisory Council member. Kim’s professional and personal experience with pediatric feeding disorder is a huge asset to Feeding Matters. She gives so much to others and is always willing to support another family in need.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a parent of a beautiful, smart, and spunky four-year-old girl. Our daughter, Evelyn, has a pediatric feeding disorder. My husband and I went through many excruciating months of not knowing why our little baby wouldn’t or seemingly couldn’t eat. We later learned that she was born with a paralyzed vocal cord and was unable to protect her airway when swallowing. Evie had an ng tube placed in her nose when she was just eight weeks old and a g-tube surgically placed in her tummy when she was four months old. Our family has been in feeding therapy ever since. We’ve been blessed with amazing doctors, nurses, therapists, and teachers who have supported us in this journey, and Evie is doing incredibly well now. She eats about fifty percent of her calories by mouth, but she continues to need supplemental nutrition by tube to support her growth and development. We know that the day will come when she will no longer need her feeding tube. We will absolutely celebrate that milestone; but for now, we see her tube as a lifesaving intervention, and we are incredibly grateful for the nourishment it allows.
2. How long have you been a volunteer with Feeding Matters?
Two and a half years.
3. In which volunteer activities have you participated?
I have served as a one to one parent coach/mentor (Power of Two) for families of children with pediatric feeding disorder.
4. What motivated you to become involved?
I have always been passionate about supporting families and children with special needs. As a school psychologist, counselor, and special education administrator, I’ve worked with many children with complex medical needs, some of whom relied on feeding tubes. However, nothing I had experienced in my professional life could have prepared me for the fear, anxiety, and helplessness I felt as a mother of a child who could not eat. Thankfully, I was able to build relationships with other families of tube fed children. It helped to know that we were not alone.
I started volunteering with Feeding Matters because I recognized that so many families were living in isolation and struggling with the same fear and anxiety that I experienced in our early years (and continue to experience some days). Given my personal and professional background, I hoped that I might be able to offer these families resources, support, and encouragement.
5. What has been your favorite part of volunteering with Feeding Matters?
I have greatly appreciated the families with whom I’ve worked. It’s truly been a privilege to enter into their world and listen to their unique stories.
6. In your opinion, what sets Feeding Matters apart from other organizations?
Feeding Matters is an incredible organization, and I’m so grateful for the support they provide to families. Their mission is bold and beautiful, and I appreciate their emphasis on identification, research, and promoting collaborative care. I am most impressed by their efforts to inform and engage both physicians AND families because I believe that collaboration is essential to move the field forward. Thank you, Feeding Matters, for all you do!!