A Van for Shannen

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:42

    NEWTON — One year ago, 25-year old Shannen Steffens studied dance, cooking and sign language, took a life skills class at Sussex County Community College, worked at a part-time job, and spent her Friday nights with her friends. Today she is unable to walk more than a few steps and uses a wheelchair to get around. Her family cannot afford the van with a wheelchair lift which Shannen needs to resume her active life. A Van for Shannen is a community effort to help fill this need. Steffens, who lives in the Newton area with her parents, was born with neurological disabilities, spasticity on her left side, and dystonia - a neurological movement disorder. She graduated from Kittatinny Regional High School. Until recently, she attended the LACE Life Skills program at SCCC Continuing Education. “It’s been a rough year,” said her mother, Ellen. Her father, Gary, is coping with Parkinson’s disease, and Ellen recently lost her job in home health care. Their house sustained costly damage from Hurricane Irene. Steffens' condition has progressively worsened, and she has spent time in two hospitals. She will soon be discharged from Barn Hill Care Center where she is receiving rehabilitation, and the family has no vehicle which can transport her and her wheelchair. The Van for Shannen committee, including Katie’s House and many of Steffens' friends, are reaching out to the community for help in purchasing this much-needed lifeline for the Steffens family. On November 6, a Taste of Morocco dinner will be held at Sparta United Methodist Church, 71 Sparta Avenue in Sparta, from 5-8 p.m. Marakesh, a Moroccan restaurant in Parsippany, will provide dinner. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased from Katie’s House at www.katieshouse.org or by calling 973- 383-3221. Katie’s House is a non-profit 501c3 organization which provides services for young adults with developmental disabilities. Donations for A Van for Shannen may be sent to Katie’s House, PO Box 96, Newton, NJ 07860. Please include “Help Shannen” in the memo line. Donations of items for a silent auction are also welcome.