Becca – A Mount St. Joseph Resident

Becca - A Mount St. Joseph Resident


Becca is my beautiful daughter, my youngest child. Like all mothers, I love my daughter deeply, and I have dreams for her well-being. I am proud of her accomplishments.

However, she is not like most daughters and therefore I am not like most mothers. Becca has Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome, a genetic syndrome characterized by an intellectual disability as well as autism. Both are equally challenging, and both prevent her from living on her own. When Becca was born 34 years ago, the doctors had little hope to offer us. Through many twists and turns, my husband Scott and I have navigated a path to ensure a full and productive life for her now and in the future.

The key to that full life is Mount St. Joseph, an intermediate care facility in Lake Zurich for women with intellectual disabilities. Becca has resided there for the past 13 years. Mount St. Joseph is much more than room and board: it is a loving environment where she can reach her full potential. Here she has peers, a sense of belonging, and supervised independence. She is still closely connected to her family but is able to live her own life, and that is very important to her. She is flourishing at Mount St. Joseph, and I am so thankful.

Mount St. Joseph is critical to Becca’s future as well. My husband and I take comfort in knowing that her daily routine will continue without interruption when we die. She will be loved and watched over by her second family at Mount St. Joseph.

In gratitude, Scott and I are very active in the Mount St. Joseph Association, a nonprofit organization of families, friends, and community members who care about individuals with intellectual disabilities. The Mount St. Joseph Association actively supports Mount St. Joseph in four practical ways:

  1. Raising funds for critical needs that are beyond the scope of the Mount St. Joseph operating budget: Whether the expenditure is large (infrastructure repairs to an aging building) or small ( walkie-talkies for staff), I know that every dollar we raise is directly tied to the medical, safety, or security needs of the residents. I am pleased that the Mount St. Joseph Association provides the necessary extras.
  2. Rewarding and honoring staff who provide dedicated care: The staff is outstanding! They are so kind to my daughter and so attentive to the smallest details of her health and well-being. It is a privilege to recognize their dedication and compassion in tangible ways.
  3. Advocating for intellectually disabled residents at the local, state, and federal level: Since Becca’s birth, I have become well aware of the need to advocate for those who have no voice. The Mount St. Joseph Association champions positive legislative policies and raises alarms about legislative policies which have the potential of harming those with intellectual disabilities.
  4. Planning and funding year-round activities, outings and events for residents: Becca is delighted by these special events, and so am I: that’s why I serve on the Mount St. Joseph Association Events Committee. I love enriching the lives of the residents, and it is a joy to provide these experiences for them! Becca’s favorites are Equine Therapeutic Riding, Enabling Garden Club (in conjunction with the Chicago Botanic Garden), festive events such as the Fun Fair and the Ice Cream Social, and off-campus outings to community venues.

Although it is a tremendous long-term challenge to parent a child with intellectual disabilities, I have many blessings in my life: chief among them are Mount St. Joseph and the Mount St. Joseph Association.

Julie Vowinkel
Mount St. Joseph Association Board of Directors