In High School, I wanted to be a Graphic Designer and live in NYC and own a business and maybe consider having my first child by 35... Here I sit in West Michigan at 35, married for 12 years with 3 children and my youngest daughter, Abigail Grace has Down Syndrome. As a Special Needs mom needing to find more strength than I knew was possible, I realized that if I was pushing my daughter more and more to achieve her next goals, that I too could do something out of my comfort zone. After looking around my community for how to raise a daughter with Down Syndrome I started searching broader and broader for support. That's what led me to my first National Down Syndrome Congress Conference 4 years ago. I began searching and longing for more support and my eyes were opened to the possibilities of what Abigail could do in life. My first friends, now Family for life, I met were Wendy Calhoun Erdman and her Husband Ben Erdman. At the time, they both had been married for 10 years, lived on their own in their own Condo, both had jobs and both Rocked Down Syndrome. I walked up to Wendy's Mom Sue Calhoun and asked her "How did you do that?! How did you get your daughter to be so successful??" Her response had me in tears. Sue gave me the longest hug and said, "I just treated her like any other child." It was then that Sue began to mentor me. That year I also met Kate Dougherty with Down Country and learned how she has a Non-Profit bringing people to the conference on scholarships and helping her community teach ALL children. It was then that the two of us started talking about me starting my Non-Profit to do something similar here in West Michigan. This past Spring Break I took my children to Texas to stay on a Dude Ranch and that's really where my idea to start a Farm was realized! They had a Mule that my daughter Abigail fell in love with. Ruthie was just one of the many horses and Mules they had take people up into the Mountains for rides but Ruthie picked up on needing to be extra gentle with Abby. It was the most beautiful thing to witness. Not only was it amazing to watch Abigail get stronger but her confidence grew as well. Spending those 8 Days on the Ranch we honestly found God speaking into our Souls. I came back and started to brainstorm and thus Graceland Farms Foundation started to take shape of finding how I could combine both Scholarships and having a Farm. I would not be the same mom today without my supportive family and friends we have met along the way! Thank you, Jennifer Sunderlin

With the help of God The Mission of Graceland Farms Foundation is designed in three phases:

Phase I - Assist in education of the community and our local schools by providing local resources and scholarships to attend the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) Conference.  For 2017 we would like to award a total of 5 scholarships to employees of our local schools in the Western Michigan Counties of:

      • Kent County
      • Muskegon County
      • Ottawa County

Phase II - Open a day program where children and adults with intellectual disabilities will become involved in our local farms by learning how plant, cultivate and harvest garden crops and prepare them for consumption as well as how to care for various farm animals and have an opportunity for therapeutic interactive animal therapy

Phase III - Create Graceland Farms for adults with varying levels of intellectual disabilities ~ purchase land, build permanent housing, provide appropriate supervision, cultivate crops to be used on the farm and to be sold at local farm markets and to local restaurants, purchase and care for appropriate animals that provide therapeutic animal therapy and to maintain our own Farm where Adults with Developmental Disabilities may live full and productive lives in their local community