Self-quarantine and social distancing guidelines have forced Wilton to re-define a routine for their families, one without school or sports or activities. But for Jennifer Iannuzzi, the task of creating a new normal was uniquely challenging.
Iannuzzi’s daughter, Sydney, a Wilton 14-year-old with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS), relies on the special services provided by Wilton Public Schools for academics and support for special needs, Jennifer said. With schools closed, Sydney cannot access those resources.
“Her whole world is her school with the support she receives there,” Jennifer explained. “In one fell swoop her entire world was ripped out.”
For parents of children with special needs, it can often be challenging to adjust to life without that community as well.
“A whole other scope of [the pandemic is] for special needs parents, we are so dependent on a system for support for our kids from not only academics, obviously, but also for some support for the caregiver. And that’s been taken from us,” she added.
But with unique problems come unique solutions and the mother-daughter duo was up for the challenge. With a simple Facebook post the day after the Wilton Public Schools closed, “Special Deliveries,” a free delivery service for homebound individuals or those in need in Wilton, was born.
“All you keep reading is how this affects the elderly and they can’t get their stuff,” Jennifer said. “I have to go to the supermarket so why not pick up stuff for somebody who can’t?”
Jennifer and Sydney embark on the deliveries together almost every day, which can range from delivering take-out, groceries and supplies, to picking up prescriptions or dropping off mail packages. In a delivery on Friday, March 27 they brought homemade masks made by Southern Yankee to health care workers, a facebook post said.
The deliveries they complete differ every day, and the Iannuzzis love being able to fill their newfound time with purposeful action.
“[Delivering goods] seems so small to someone else, but to Sydney it feels purposeful,” she said.
For herself, Jennifer added, “It’s a win for me as well because it keeps me active creative, busy, thinking and not just sort of wallowing in what has been torn out from all of us.”
Striving to make the business original and fun, Jennifer and Sydney designed the logo, and went over a simple business model Jennifer drafted to assess what Special Deliveries could grow into. Additionally, running a Facebook page helps Sydney stay virtually connected to the community as well.
After the crisis ends Jennifer hopes Special Deliveries could become an activity for her and Sydney to do on the weekends. Looking further into the future, she believes Special Deliveries could evolve into a source of employment for special needs individuals.
“We all know too well that services for adults with special needs are slim to none, and let’s be honest, after this pandemic resources are going to be few and far between and it will come down to the caregiver to find something for their adult with special needs.” Jennifer said, adding, “I guess my long term goal is, could this be an employment opportunity for someone with special needs one day.”
But no matter what it turns into, right now, with every delivery Sydney and Jennifer provide they receive a sense of purpose and action.
“You do feel good when you help someone else, you just do,” Jennifer said. “It allows you to step outside of yourself a little bit, do something good for someone else. There’s a benefit to that as well.”
Jennifer encourages people to reach out to them about Special Deliveries, so they can continue to provide for Wilton and gain a feeling of purposefulness in return.