As the mother of five and the foster parent of more than 125 children over the course of three decades, Mary O’Connell is a compassionate, driven woman. In particular, she wants to improve the lives of children with autism.
Her passion for this specific group began when she and her husband adopted Ellie, a special needs child.
“She is 10 years younger than our youngest child,” she said. “We had been doing foster care for many years. Every once in a while, a child just melts your heart.”
Ellie had many physical difficulties as a young child, and as she got older, O’Connell realized that she would need more academic assistance than any of her other four children.
“I had children that went through the regular education system,” she said, “but had never had anyone who needed special ed services.”