To Lillian, Wellspring means “family.” She has been coming to the center for 16 years.

Her son’s diagnosis with autism motivated her to study social work at Sacramento City College.

“I’ve always wanted to help out other people,” she said. “It goes back to when I was in junior high – I wanted to be a missionary. When my son got diagnosed with autism, I was sitting at the computer with a binder full of stuff that I had researched and my husband at the time said, ‘You look like you are going to school,’ so I said okay let me go and get back to helping people. I’ve always been pretty resourceful, if I need something I can find it or I can figure out a way to work around not having it. I figured that I could probably help other families with kids with autism or other people in general.”

What does the Oak Park community mean to you?

“It’s become my home,” Lillian said. “I moved away recently. My daughter went to visit a friend and she stayed there for a few days and she said. ‘I miss Oak Park.” I took a college class recently and we were talking and somebody mentioned, ‘oh that’s a rough neighborhood’ and I was just sitting there thinking, ‘it’s not that bad.’ Even when it was kind of bad or worse, I guess I looked past that.”

In addition to her son, she has two daughters.

What does being a mother mean to you?

“It means the world to me,” she said. “I would do anything for my kids. I try to do what I can — some days it is harder than others. Especially now that my kids are older – even my 12 year old, she is like how can I get a job? How can I help out? I don’t want her to worry about stuff like that, but, unfortunately, it is the reality that we have to live in in our house.”

“If Wellspring wasn’t here, I’m pretty sure I’d be able to figure things out, but Wellspring has been a godsend,” she said. “They’ve really helped me out a lot. They are a big support.”

What have you learned as you have moved through life?

“Just that you have to have an openness and a caring for others – you have to keep your heart open to others,” she said. “You can’t be callous. If you see somebody having a hard time at least say, ‘hi’ and even a ‘hi’ can brighten somebody’s day. Even the little things help out sometimes.”

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