2011 Imagine Award Honoree Charounda Cook
Charounda’s life changed forever when her three month old son, Michael, stopped breathing in his crib. That “near-SIDS” event resulted in brain damage that affected his motor, intellectual, and speech development. He needed a wheel chair for mobility, a feeding tube for nutrition, and special equipment to help him communicate.
Charounda made Michael’s needs her top priority. She worked with her CHiP nurse to understand Michael’s diagnosis, the medical follow-up that he needed, and how to care for him at home. Her CHiP team was behind her all the way with emotional support, assistance with appointments, and coordination with other essential local agencies: Region Ten, UVA’s Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center, and Pediatric Connection. They helped her navigate the court system so she could obtain child support, and connected with the Albemarle County school system to coordinate Michael’s educational needs. With her CHiP team’s guidance, when Charounda decided that Michael needed in-home nursing care, her team helped her advocate for her son with state and local agencies.
A few years ago Charounda’s CHiP team encouraged her to apply to Habitat for Humanity as a “Partner Family”. She was accepted into the program and has worked diligently to complete their rigorous “sweat equity” and financial training requirements. Work on her new house has begun, and she hopes to move into her own home next spring.