By Stephanie Malench
In January 2020, Amanda Ponce and her boyfriend Clint Reilson started a new civic group for Highland.
The Hometown Dream is a 501(c)3 that was established to help residents obtain expensive medical equipment that improves their quality of life and was based off of the community group Edwardsville Neighbors, created by Chad and Kathie Opel over 10 years ago.
Ponce has worked with Opel at Front Office, a financial planning business since November of 2020.
Ponce created the Hometown Dream because of her own personal connection with expensive medical equipment. In first grade, Ponce was diagnosed with significant hearing loss after failing her beginning of the year hearing test. In depth testing determined that Ponce had severe hearing loss in both ears and would need hearing aids in both ears.
Ponce refused to wear the hearing aids in school because they were visible and people started treating her different and compensated by reading lips, well enough that she graduated from high school with honors. When she started college Ponce saw the big picture and was finally able to get the kind that fit in the ear and are less noticeable. This was when Ponce realized how many thousands of dollars her parents spent for her first pair of hearing aids that she refused to wear.
“Many families cannot afford such items,” Ponce said, “without planning ahead or taking money intended for something else. That is what made me start The Hometown Dream. Medical devices should not have to place a burden on a family. The Hometown Dream was created to alleviate some of the stress put on families when medical expenses arise”.
Although The Hometown Dream is just having their first fundraiser on June 19th at the PIC Park in Pierron for the Highland-Pierron Fire Department to purchase medical supplies and equipment, the organization has already made its first donation to a family in need.
Last month, The Hometown Dream was able to donate a special needs stroller to a family with a little boy who needs extra support to physically develop correctly. The stroller provides mild to moderate positioning support and includes a special harness and cushions to help position him properly while sitting, which helps with muscle development.
Residents who live in the Highland CUSD #5 geographical boundaries in need of help with medical equipment can email firstname.lastname@example.org.