When her twin boys were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sharon Finley quickly learned that her family would need to make sacrifices to properly raise Sean and Terry, including spare time, the feeling of spontaneity and extra money for the finer things in life, such as brand new furniture.
"We've had the same furniture for years," said Finley. "Something that I've always wanted was to sleep in a sleigh bed."
Finley's wish came true last week when Mealey's in Warminster sent a truck filled with $10,000 worth of brand new dining room, living room and bedroom furniture, including that sleigh bed, to the Finleys' home in Feasterville.
Sharon and Daniel Finley were nominated for Mealey's Furniture annual "Houseful of Furniture" giveway by their oldest daughter, Danielle. She was inspired by her parents' dedication no only to Sean and Terry, but other families living with autism in Bucks County and beyond.
In an effort to support other families affected by autism spectrum disorder, Sharon Finley founded Sean-Me.org. The organization is named after now 14-year-old son Sean, who did not speak until he was over six-years-old, referring to his parents as “MeMom” and “MeDad.” When Sean was first able to communicate about himself, he said, “SeanMe.”
"We organize inclusive events throughout the year for any kids with special needs," said Finley. "We host an Easter egg hunt at Firefighters' Field in Bensalem and family fun day at Fireside Grill in Feasterville. The owner, John, donates all the food, and we have carnival baskets for raffles."
One of the organization's biggest successes this year was the creation of a special needs-friendly beach house in Wildwood, N.J. The sights and sounds of the beach and boardwalk can be a bit much for autistic children that are ultra sensitive to environmental stimuli. For two weeks, families were invited to use free-of-charge inclusive services at a house the Finley's rented in Wildwood. With volunteer nurses and aides on hand to care for the children, parents could enjoy some time for themselves.
“The Finley’s commitment to provide education and resources to better the lives of their sons and others dealing with autism was one of many powerful stories we received,” said Ed Darcy, President, Mealey’s Furniture. “We are thankful to give the Finleys new home furnishings as they have given selflessly to their family and community.”
The Mealey’s Furniture “Houseful of Furniture” community campaign was designed to support the company’s mission to help build and sustain its local communities.
In November, Mealey’s Furniture invited Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and Delaware Valley-area residents to submit their personal story or to nominate someone based on “why you or someone you know deserves a houseful of furniture.”
Hundreds of nominations were received and Mealey’s Furniture awarded the “Houseful of Furniture” to the Finleys.
“My parents are amazing and I don’t think my mother has had a solid night sleep in 14 years,” wrote Danielle in the nomination application. A freshman at La Salle University, Danielle did not know her family had won the giveaway until Mealey's representatives arrived at their home on Dec. 20.
"This is the kind of things that Danielle has always done," said Sharon as she pointed out a wall filled with photos from her daughter's numerous fundraising efforts throughout the years, including an Alex's Lemonade Stand and a visit from Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.
The family traveled to the Mealey's showroom in Warminster to pick out their new furniture, but the task ended up being a lot easier than planned.
"They came to our home first and took some pictures to get an idea of what we might like," said Sharon. "When we got to the store, everything they picked was perfect. We just went with their selections."
On Dec. 23, a trio of delivery men from Mealey's safely navigated the tight corners of the Feasterville home and, within hours, had the beds, dining room table and hutch and living room couches assembled and settled in place.