“Mary McQueeny and Sharon Lisnow, the Center’s founders began working toward their dream in 1994 when they were given a parcel of land. They rallied the community and built a 6000 square foot home. The home is named after Sharon ’s son Michael. Michael was born weighing just a pound. Beacause of his profound prematurity he was blind and had cerebral palsy. He also had profound medical issues. Michael died at the age of 10. When asked about the accolades given to the center both Mary and Sharon commented ‘We always know, if it would not be good enough for Michael, it just isn’t good enough.’ Sharon goes on to say ‘Michael taught me how frightening it is to leave your child, especially one without language. His medical needs were always the most scary. I know my worries are the same worries that many of the families have. Yet, they have a confidence in us. Safety, dignity, love, and fun all need to blend. We know when a family gives us their trust it is something to take very seriously. It is a gift.”
Kara’s sister Katie Wolters was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 6; sections of her brain were removed. Radiation shrunk the remaining non-operable areas. The tumor affected her balance, short term memory and motor skills.
Her parents tried to make Katie’s childhood as "normal" as possible. The long term effects of radiation were not known at that time and as she aged she became deaf and wheelchair bound. With her father working to support the family, Katie was solely reliant on Kara’s mother, Liz, whose amazing love for her daughter blessed her with patience and dedication. She lovingly sacrificed her life to care for her daughter.
Then, quite unexpectedly Liz was diagnosed with cancer and she became unable to care for Katie. She fought a courageous battle of her own, but sadly, lost that battle two year later. Kara’s older sister, Kristen, immediately stepped forward, and with the help of her brother, Ray, and Kara, cared for them both. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Kristen too gave up her dreams in order to be a care giver for her loved ones.
In 2001, the Wolters were introduced to the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center, in Hopkinton, MA, an amazing center that helps care for the disabled, despite their age. Their goal: to help families get a respite from the necessary, yet constant care of the disabled. The Respite Center helped Kara’s family tremendously with exceptional, loving care three to four days a week.
It was a relief for Liz to give Katie the opportunity to socialize with her peers. She became one of the gang! Mary McQueeny and Sharon Lisnow often took the kids on field trips-no small task. The women taught them independence with dignity. The love and compassion of the staff was overwhelming.
Katie’s involvement with the Center lasted five years until, neurologically, her body started to break down.
Katie lost her battle in June 2004.
“I continue, in her honor, to help raise money for the Respite Center- a gift from heaven. Sharon McQueeny and Mary Lisnow are truly amazing angels. We can't thank them enough for the help and support they gave to our family. We will be forever indebted to them and hope after hearing my story you too will contribute to the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.”