‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all! Here’s our interview with Lynn Gierie, 2021 Maine Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for the Mother of the Year® for your state?
It’s a huge honor. And I greatly appreciate this honor. But honestly, I feel that this honor goes out to all the moms that go above and beyond to support and empower their kids each and every day.
What do you love most about being a mom?
I think what I love most about being a mom is the inspiration that my son gives me. He’s a disabled young man, and he just keeps me inspired and motivated day in and day out to continue the work that I do in caring for him every day. As well as reaching out to vulnerable parents of children with special needs in the state of Maine.
“We as a family, as well as all care providers, really wear our hearts on our sleeve. There is no question that is strange or unwelcomed. We want to express and share our experiences as much as possible.”Lynn Gierie, 2021 Maine Mother of the Year®
Some of the challenges special needs kids face are much harder sometimes, so what do you do for him or say to him to keep him motivated when he wants to give up?
Well, he is nonverbal, so my husband and I read his cues. He certainly has down days and we simply tell him that we’re there for him, that we’re going to be there forever, to help him grow and develop and become independent. And we work on communication with him and have him express himself [to build that mentality that] we’re not going to give up.
As a family, what do you do in your community to help make a difference?
As a family, we show up to community events. People want to meet Robbie because of the Robbie Foundation. When he enters a room, people say, ‘Oh, that’s Robbie. That’s Robbie,’ and that has an impact on them. They want to meet him. They want to get to know him. They want to learn about his disability. It’s really intriguing. We, as a family, as well as all care providers, really wear our hearts on our sleeve. There is no question that is strange or unwelcomed. We always want to be asked those questions rather than people wondering and just staring unknowingly. We want to express and share our experiences as much as possible.
The Golden Rule Movement provides a platform for women who embody the selfless, caring spirit of motherhood, and who are using that maternal energy to make the world a better place. How would you say you exemplify the Golden Rule in your everyday life?
I think that one big way is through my giving back to the community and to families that need the support, emotionally, as well as financially, and empowering them and advocating for them, as well as giving them the funding [through the Robbie Foundation] to help their children become the best that they can be without having that financial piece be a barrier.
Can you tell us more about the Robbie Foundation?
Absolutely. The Robbie Foundation is a funding source for Maine families. We provide adaptive equipment, assistive technology, and therapy treatments that are not covered by insurance. Anything from quality of life items to safety items, such as a safety bed, can be completely out of reach for a lot of families. The cost ranges from $5,000 to $8,000.
In an effort to keep their child safe, another item might be something as simple as GPS tracking for kids that runoff. A quality of life item might be an adaptive trike for a child whose family can’t go to Walmart or Target and purchase a bike for $100. Instead, they’re having to purchase a really expensive piece of equipment that runs from $3,000 to $5,000 with all the supports and harnesses that allow their kids to go out in the neighborhood and really be immersed in a typical and normal life. We can’t change diagnoses, but our effort is to just make lives a little better.
Lynn Gierie was born and raised in a small community in northern Maine where she learned that determination, perseverance, and hard work build strong foundations for achieving goals. After completing a degree in education she began teaching underprivileged students and has made helping children her life’s mission for the past 25 years. When her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth he became her inspiration to be an advocate for children and families throughout the state of Maine. Ten years ago she founded Robbie Foundation, a unique non-profit organization that funds equipment and services (not covered by insurance) for children with special needs. Along with being a full-time teacher and caring for a son with special needs, Lynn is dedicated to spending countless hours of her time spreading awareness and raising funds to help support children living with disabilities.