We invite you to view the Hand-N-Hand video, it shares parent testimonials and embodies the heart of Hand-N-Hand...
"We found out our youngest son was deaf at 2 months old. At that point the thing we wanted most was to be connected with other families to get support and answers to our many questions. We started coming to Hand-N-Hand and found the most caring, welcoming and knowledgeable people we never would have met otherwise. The organization Jenny has started is like a beacon of light for families facing the scary diagnosis of hearing loss. It was amazing how the other families cared so much for us and helped us out in big and little ways. These were people who knew our fears, had faced similar struggles and had shared the same kinds of experiences. Hand-N-Hand has also provided our older two children with a unique learning opportunity. They get excited when they know it is Monday night. Hand-N-Hand, and Jenny, has taught our whole family that raising a deaf child is different – but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Thank you, Jenny, for all you have done for us."
Shannon & Paul - Parents
"When we came to Hand-N-Hand two years ago we were struggling with finding ways to communicate with our son who was born with Down Syndrome. His speech had not yet developed, and we only knew a small handful of signs. Hand-N-Hand was able to help take the pressure off of our son not being able to speak and allow us to focus on what he wanted. Imagine a world where you want to eat your favorite food but are unable to tell someone what you want to eat - that was where our son was at. Mealtime was very stressful because he knew what he wanted but couldn't find a way to tell us. Many a nightnights were spent with the refrigerator door wide open because our son couldn't find a way to say what he wanted. Now he is able to speak and sign many things including his favorite food - ice cream! Two years ago, our son was only able to say ‘hi’ and ‘yeah’, and he knew only 4-5 signs that he was able to use on a daily basis - now thanks to Hand-N-Hand I have lost count of the words he can speak and sign."
Roxy & Craig - Parents
"Before our daughter was born, we were an all hearing family, with absolutely no knowledge of the deaf community and sign language skills. Our daughter was born November 2016 and did not pass her newborn hearing screen. The nurses explained that it could just be fluid from birth and to give it time. They proceeded to perform retest after retest, and even performing surgery to place tubes, just in case it still was fluid causing the failed test results. My concerns grew more with each failed test. Upon failing yet another retest after that, she was referred to the Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee where we would later find out through a sedated ABR that she was profoundly deaf in both ears. It was then that everything became real and the questions immediately began to flood my brain. In this moment, I became overwhelmed with emotions of sadness, confusion, frustration and worry. This was not something I had any expertise in, and I felt helpless for my daughter. At this point she was already 6 months old and time was ticking to learn what we needed to do to keep her on track. I knew that Google wasn’t going to cut it but the resources I had at the time were slim and usually were a dead end.
Luckily, while at Children’s Hospital, they referred us to an audiologist at Prevea who gave us a sense of direction on what we should expect in the years to come. She recommended contacting Jenny Geiken at Hand N Hand for support. This was a game changer for our family. After one phone conversation with Jenny, I had hope! This was exactly what I was looking for and just what we needed to move forward and get my daughter back on track. Our family actively participates in DHH Playgroups and ASL classes. We also attended this year’s DHH Family Conference.
While we are still very new to this program, our family has made a lot of progress in the few short months we’ve been participating. I tell everyone that if we did not have Hand N Hand, I don’t know where we would be. It is a wonderful place to learn and evolve as a family and meet other families who may have shared the same experiences. Each time I learn something new… whether that be a new sign or a new resource. Hand N Hand has given me not only support and direction, but a little bit of my sanity back, one day at a time."
Krysta & Jake - Parents
"We knew from the very beginning that our son would be different. During our pregnancy the genetic counselor prepared me for various “special needs” scenarios based on an untreated CMV infection. Even though you know, you’re never fully prepared. Ira’s bilateral hearing loss was confirmed by three weeks of age and that started us on a whole new journey full of new therapies, doctors, treatments, and vocabulary. Despite all the help and instruction and theory it was still rather isolating. As his mom I knew exactly what he needed and wanted even though he couldn’t verbalize it. Love doesn’t need words. The problem was, nobody else knew.
We kind of stumbled upon Hand-N-Hand and really wish we had found them sooner. Jenny and the entire staff are not only welcoming and knowledgeable but for the first time we got to address our son's hearing loss as a family rather than “his problem”. Thanks to Hand-N-Hand we’re slowing building a bridge with all his caregivers and family members because we’re better equipped as a family to address it. HNH doesn’t just help our son: my older children are engaged in Sign Language classes, meeting peers, etc. My husband and I are glad to finally have a community instead of a treatment plan. Hand-N-Hand gives us that community."
Drea & Brian - Parents
"Hand N Hand has inspired us and opened the door to friendships and counselors who are in the same stage of life as us or, when we’re lucky, a stage ahead of us! Over the past year and a half, the teachers, parents, and kids at Hand N Hand have encouraged us and given us hope to press on, learn a new language, navigate the medical field, and get to know people with whom we normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet. Our children, both hearing and deaf, have loved meeting the other children here. They have been introduced to many deaf and hard of hearing people whom they now look up to. Hand N Hand has taught our family how to incorporate sign language into play and learning, and build upon our other senses to make the most out of an experience. Our son, who is deaf, has some of his best memories walking through paint, eating chocolate pudding, and watching his teachers speak his own language to him as they played. We are so thankful for this organization, and we know we would be far behind in our knowledge and confidence in raising our son if it weren’t for the dedicated and loving people here."
Jenn & Jason - Parents
"Our journey with identifying our children's’ hearing needs didn’t start until after our daughter was born and diagnosed to be profoundly deaf. It was after her diagnosis that we also questioned the quality of our son’s speech and hearing. After many doctor visits and lots of testing, we found out that he, too, at 3 years old, had severe to profound hearing loss. Hand-N-Hand helped us along our journey in many ways. Our family learned sign language through the classes they offer. We participate in Monday night playgroup to help with socialization and learning for our children. Having peers who are also deaf or hard of hearing have helped our children to learn how to make friends and communicate. The Music class and Little Listeners class has helped to develop listening and processing skills. We have found other parents to be a valuable resource of information and when other’s shared their stories, it helped our family to find out what would best help us. Hand-N-Hand has given our family communication and priceless experiences to better help our children. Thank you Hand-N-Hand."
Jessica & Aaron - Parents
"Our family started coming to Hand-N-Hand in 2014 when our daughter was 1 year old. She was born deaf in one ear & at 1 year of age we found out she had lost hearing in her other ear. We met Jenny and she introduced us to Hand-N-Hand. We started coming to Monday night playgroup regularly. This was a new journey for us and we all needed help learning a new way to communicate. By age 2 our daughter was bilaterally implanted. Hand-N-Hand provided us with local support & classes to help us with this next stage. Our family participated in Monday night Playgroup, Beginning Sign Language classes, Roots & Wings, Little Listeners & Music Classes through Hand-N-Hand. These programs have been beneficial to our daughter's developmental progress and our ability to communicate with our daughter. It has been a blessing to have Hand-N-Hand, the support of Jenny Geiken, other families' support, and the opportunity for our daughter to form friendships with other children who are deaf or hard of hearing."
Brian & Melissa - Parents
"Our daughter was diagnosed at age 5 after not passing the kindergarten hearing screening. We received the diagnosis and were in shock and not knowing where to turn. We had been given the information to connect with Hand-N-Hand within a few months of finding out. We went through trying hearing aids and not having success. Our daughter has been in private school so getting resources and support through the public school district was not really an option. Our family needed to learn sign language, ways to help support her in school, learn to adapt certain environments and problem solve situations as we encountered them. Hand-N-Hand has been there every step of the way. At age 13 we were informed that she might be eligible for a cochlear implant, after some testing and follow up she was implanted in 2015. We have had some complications with the implant and November of 2017 she had her 3rd implant surgery. We are hopeful for this to be the last. Hand-N-Hand has been there for our family for the past 10 years. We are forever grateful for the support of the families, kids, professionals who have helped our daughter and our family on our journey. Every corner brings new challenges, things to learn and overcome; we are forever grateful for our Hand-N-Hand family and glad to have been a part of this organization for over 10 years."
Adam & Holly - Parents
"I have three children who were born with, or later acquired, hearing loss. Their losses range from mild-profoundly Deaf. My family found Hand-N-Hand in December 2016. Before that, we had no support surrounding us, or socialization with like peers, for my children. This past year I have found my voice to advocate for my children's needs with encouragement, support, and education provided by Hand-N-Hand."
Sarah - Parent
“This is the only place where I don’t feel different, everyone is just like me and nobody looks at me funny. I can always have fun and be myself.”
6 year old Hand-N-Hand member
"We first heard about Hand N Hand when our eldest daughter was about 5 months old. She had been diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears. This hearing diagnosis was an unknown course for us. We were given information about Hand N Hand. I called the director of the program, Jenny Geiken, and she told us to “come and check it out.” We decided to do just that and are so glad that we did!
We met other families with the same hearing challenges as we were dealing with. The families and Jenny were a wealth of information and support. Plus, our baby was able to interact with children just like herself! We were able to take signing classes and attend informative meetings that expanded our resource pool. Then we had our second baby and found out she also had a hearing loss. We received more support from these Hand N Hand families.
Now we are a family with 4 little ladies, 2 of them hearing and 2 that are deaf. Throughout the years that we have been associated with Hand N Hand, I hope we have supported other families in the same way we were!"
Andy & Lorien - Parents
"Hand N Hand has been a lifeline for our entire family. It has given us as parents hope and support to know that we aren't alone. The resources and knowledge has been unlimited. Learning how to get what we need as a family is impossible without guidance from other parents and Jenny. More importantly, our daughter has learned that she's not alone. Because of Hand N Hand she learned at the age of eight months that other children have hearing loss. Other children have "tools" to help them hear. For that I will be forever grateful. Now that we have a newborn, who also has hearing loss, this will come as a breeze. Our family needs the support of Hand N Hand to continue raising our children and give them everything they deserve."
Nick & Kellyn - Parents
"We found out our daughter was hard of hearing at 3 years old with a bilateral sensorineural degenerative hearing impairment. She is now 22 years old and she has a severe hearing loss with hearing levels at 70 dB - 75 dB. She is slowly going deaf. Since the start of Hand-N-Hand we have been grateful for the educational and social support for our family. The school district was taking care of her deaf and hard of hearing educational needs, but that did not touch the family or social aspects of her life or ours. Until Hand-N-Hand began in 2002, Milwaukee was the nearest and only support agency in WI. There were opportunities available; however, we were not able to take advantage of them due to the distance. Our daughter is now a mom herself, and she has continued with Hand-N-Hand to help prepare her own daughter in understanding her mom’s hearing loss. This organization’s support, and the opportunity to be involved with it, has been a tremendous blessing to her family."
Carol - Parent
"My daughter and I have been a part of the Hand-N-Hand program for over a year. After our first day, I knew this was a very unique and special program. The class is very interactive and a lot of fun. Being around parents and kids with similar needs has helped me to better understand my child, myself, and my family. The sibling class has helped my other kids to better understand and communicate with our daughter. I’ve developed a very special bond with my daughter and am very thankful to be a part of this amazing program."
Don - Parent
"Our son was born April 2009, he failed his newborn hearing screen and that’s where our journey began. At 3 months of age, he was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears. At the age of 1, he received bilateral cochlear implants. With no hearing loss in our family and being our first child this was an extremely scary and overwhelming time for us. Hand N Hand welcomed us with open arms, we felt understood and no longer felt like we were going through this alone. The first playgroup we attended we saw other kids with hearing loss playing like “normal” kids…it was something (at the time) a very worried parent needed to see. Hand N Hand has given us so many opportunities to surround us with others and information to educate us in an area we knew very little about. We are excited for our future and Hand N Hand is a big part in our journey."
Chad & Annette - Parents
"Hand-N-Hand provides programs for everyone in our family. The knowledge of community resources and emotional support that we have received has been a true blessing."
"Hand-N-Hand has given us so many opportunities to surround us with others and information to educate us in an area we knew very little about. We are excited for our future and Hand-N-Hand is a big part in our journey."
"I can’t tell you how valuable it is to my husband and I to not only learn sign language, but to have contact with families raising deaf or hard of hearing children. I met someone in class who knows of another family that adopted a deaf child. That child has now graduated high school and is doing awesome... What are the chances I’d find someone who has already done what we hope to do? Without Hand N Hand, I never would have found that family. So THANK YOU!!! For allowing my husband and I to participate in your programs even though we don’t yet have our deaf child. Your big heart helps so many people."
Joy - Parent
"Hand-N-Hand is a place where our family has always felt welcome. Our children get the opportunity to interact with their friends and we get the opportunity to practice our sign language skills and share our experiences with other families who have children with a hearing loss. There is NO other program like it in Northeast WI."
Michelle - Parent
"Hand N Hand is such a wonderful place to come with our granddaughter that has hearing loss. We feel very welcome and enjoy the activities and learning experiences that are offered. There are so many resources and educational events that benefit not only our granddaughter, but the rest of our family as well. Jenny does a fantastic job with the children and shares her kindness, and knowledge, to enrich every session. Hand N Hand is the best thing I have found in NEW for family support for children with hearing problems."
Mary - Grandparent
“HNH helped our family realize we are not alone and we will get through this. They gave us the tools to help our child and be educated parents. We were lost before we found this organization and …. our family will be devastated without it.”
"We became involved with HNH about two years ago. Our son, now 4, was diagnosed with significant hearing loss at birth and was fitted with hearing aids at 10 weeks old. Since then, it has been a learning experience trying to determine how to best meet his needs and enhance his communication. As parents, we want to be able to be the 'first responders' so to speak in being able to effectively teach and communicate with our son. HNH has come alongside our family in assisting us with the communication process. The program offers unconditional support and really meets you right where you are at. We have met many friends at HNH and leave every meeting knowing just a little bit more about how to connect with the son God has gifted us with. There really is nothing comparable to our son's smiling face looking up at you with understanding and comprehension. HNH offers us just another means to make that happen. We truly appreciate the program and the efforts of those who run it. Thanks HNH!"
Tammy - Parent
"Our family has been attending Hand-N-Hand for 5 years, ever since our daughter was a year old. At first it was a place to socialize with other families and to learn sign language, but it grew into so much more. It has been a huge resource for us. Talking with other families with similar situations has given us a wealth of knowledge that no professional could give. It has also helped us to find resources from other organizations to providers and equipment. Now that are kids are older, they attend the Roots-N-Wings classes developed for older kids to really learn and use sign language. We are very fortunate to have been a part of this wonderful organization."
Staci & Will - Parents
"Our youngest child is deaf. We learned of her hearing loss at birth. Upon diagnosis of her hearing loss we were led to UWSP and to our local Birth to Three program where we learned of Hand-N-Hand. Knowing I was in over my head, we decided to start going to Hand-N-Hand. Although it is a bit of a drive it is well worth it. In coming to Hand-N-Hand we have found resources and attended classes and made connections with other families. The Hand-N-Hand family helps to answer questions and helps our daughter realize she is not alone, communicating and connecting with other kids just like her."
Ted - Parent
"In 2009 our daughter joined our family. Shortly after birth we discovered she has an extra 21st chromosome, commonly known as Down Syndrome. We also learned over those next several days that nerve damage had caused unilateral hearing loss. As our family struggled to join those two worlds, we found ourselves being introduced to Jenny at Hand-N-Hand of Northeast Wisconsin. We quickly learned of the numerous resources that were available to us and to our daughter. We began learning about the dynamics behind our daughter's hearing loss, what all of the terminology and tests meant, and what it means for her now and in the future as she grows and begins to perceive the environment around her....We have watched as our daughter's big brother has quickly learned basic signs and sentences. He is excited to use the signs when communicating with his sister, and we can see how it is helping them build their relationship. As a family, we have spent hours playing games that help us learn sign language, and continuing our daughter's therapy. As we have learned the connection between Down Syndrome and hearing loss, we have grown stronger both as a family and as advocates for the acceptance of others. Hand-N-Hand has touched our lives in knowing that we are not alone facing these challenges but rather that we have a partner in developing a better life for our daughter."
Tom & Melissa - Parents
"Our daughter was born profoundly deaf. Our Birth to Three coordinator informed us about the wonderful things Jenny was doing in Green Bay and encouraged us to check it out. Our daughter was three months old when we first came to Hand-N-Hand. She is now four and mainstreamed in our local grade school in their Pre-K program. Our Hand-N-Hand network of families has provided us with invaluable support and guidance. Jenny has been a constant inspiration and support to us. As our daughter went through the process to get bilateral cochlear implants, we had families walking that same path and sharing their experience with us. Now we are able to help younger families that are just starting their journey with hearing loss. We cherish our Hand-N-Hand “family”, and it is with deep gratitude that we share our story."
Mike & Carol - Parents
"Our oldest son brought us to Hand-N-Hand over two years ago when he learned of his best friend’s hearing loss. He felt he needed to learn sign so that he would always be able to communicate with her. In the last year we have developed an even stronger bond with this “extended family” when we discovered our youngest son had verbal apraxia and autism. Jenny and the other families have been great resources and shoulders to lean on. Hand-N-Hand holds a dear spot in our hearts."
Sarah & Justin - Parents
"Our son was diagnosed with a mild to moderate hearing loss at the age of 20 months. When we first found out, our family was devastated and didn't know what to do. We heard about a playgroup for families, for children with hearing loss. After a long search, our family found Hand-N-Hand. Since 2008, our family has been connected with other families who have children with hearing loss. This connection has been priceless. Our family has been able to learn sign language free of charge. Jenny Geiken has also connected us with other programs state-wide. Hand-N-Hand has made it so we don't feel alone and we are very thankful for this organization.”
Jennifer & John - Parents
"Hand-N-Hand has helped my family when I was referred by birth to three program for my daughter. The birth to three program said it was a place to start to help my daughter, then my son soon after. My daughter didn’t have a hearing loss but she didn't talk much yet. It has helped her so much now because I can communicate with her. I am deaf and my son has some hearing loss and he is still working on signing as well. We have benefitted from a great teacher that we have and her name is Jenny Geiken. She has helped our family so much with what I needed to do to help them learn a language to communicate better. I probably wouldn't know what I would have done if it wasn't for the recommendation to try out Hand-N-Hand."
Tina - Parent
"Our oldest son was born premature at 35 weeks gestation. While a baby he had numerous ear infections and it was recommended that tubes be placed in his ears. To our surprise, we were told that he had a unilateral hearing loss (deaf in his left ear). We were told that nothing could be done. Well, needless to say that was not an acceptable answer for us as parents. We pursued a different ENT and began down a road we knew nothing about. He was immediately fitted with a crossover hearing aid and began as an itinerant student in the local school district. Today, he is completely mainstreamed and chooses not to wear his hearing aids but does utilize a sign language educational interpreter in school. Our youngest son was born premature at 24 weeks. There were many stressful times during his stay in the NICU. After 144 days of the stay, he was able to come home with us with a heart monitor. His hearing was fine; he passed the tests and had few ear infections as a baby. He had other delays, being born very premature and began in the Birth to 3 program. At age 3, he transitioned into the local school district and was doing great. At age 4, we noticed he was asking numerous questions and “what, what, what?” We immediately took him in for a screening. We were amazed and shocked to be told, “Your child needs hearing aids immediately!” Our son has a progressive hearing loss. At some point in his life, he may become completely deaf. The time line is unclear and “why” is always a question we ask to the man upstairs. We continue to learn and network with other families in the Hand-N-Hand group. We are very appreciative to Jenny Geiken for her knowledge and her heart felt sincerity with our children."
Dawn & Dale - Parents
"I am an Educational Interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing and volunteer with Hand-N-Hand. I have been an interpreter with the Green Bay Area Public Schools for 16 years. My main role as an interpreter is to facilitate communication between my deaf/hard of hearing students and their hearing peers, teachers and other school staff, using sign language. In the past the families have struggled to find services their deaf and hard of hearing children needed, especially with language development. I have seen children come into school without a strong language base and the difficulties the families have. I remember a student of mine once said, “No one understands how difficult it is sitting around the dinner table and not knowing how my family’s day was or being able to talk about my day because I cannot communicate with my family.”
Hand-N-Hand offers resources and tools for families who have a child with hearing loss. Language is so important early in a child’s life and Hand-N-Hand uses activities that involve play and art to teach children and their parents sign language, along with speech. Also, it is great to see the connection the families make with each other."
Kelli - Educational Interpreter
"All three of our children LOVE attending Hand-N-Hand meetings. They call them the sign language party!! They even want to invite their friends! It is fabulous to see their strength and confidence grow with each passing day. We found Hand-N-Hand about 2 years ago. It has given to us a place to ask questions, express concerns, and let our children know that they are not "the only ones". It also allows us to give experience and encouragement to others who are seeking it. The educators and families have made a beautiful thing happen for us and everyone we have met."
Barbara & Scott - Parents
"My daughter and I have been a part of the Hand-N-Hand program for over a year. After our first day, I knew this was a very unique and special program. The class is very interactive and a lot of fun. Being around parents and kids with similar needs has helped me to better understand my daughter, myself, and my family. The sibling class has helped my other kids to better understand and communicate with their sister. I’ve developed a very special bond with my daughter and am very thankful to be a part of this amazing program."
Don - Parent
"Our daughter was born with Left Aural Atresia with Type 1 microtia. In other words she was born with only 1 ear in which she deals with a conductive hearing loss. We were referred to Hand-N-Hand in October 2011 by our Birth to 3 therapist and have been attending ever since. Hand-N-Hand is a place where our daughter feels comfortable and feels like she “fits in.” The first day we were there she said, “mom, look they have hearing aids like me.” It is amazing how much we learn each week and how Jenny makes the learning fun for the kids. Hand-N-Hand provides programs for everyone in our family. The knowledge of community resources and emotional support that we have received has been a true blessing. Jenny and her staff have an amazing passion for the deaf and hard of hearing kids and their families. We are so thankful for Hand-N-Hand and can’t imagine life without it."
Angie - Parent
"Our 4 year old has profound hearing loss and uses ASL for communication. We have been teaching him ASL and learning ourselves along the way. We live in a small town and there were no resources for us anywhere close to home. The school audiologist introduced us to Hand-N-Hand. From the moment we entered the building we felt the caring atmosphere and our son was so excited to see so many people willing to communicate with him using sign language. Jenny sat down with us and took the time to see how Hand-N-Hand could be of service to us...My husband and I are learning so much, we have now integrated ASL into our daily lives, even when we are speaking to hearing people! Our 10 year old is part of the Roots-N-Wings class also held at Hand-N-Hand. She spends the hour ride home showing all the new signs she has learned each week. And our 4 year old is treated to a playgroup with other deaf children taught by Jenny while we are in our classes. He absolutely loves it and is eager to keep learning more signs. Jenny and the staff have been wonderful assets to our lives learning sign language and helping our son become successful in life. Hand-N-Hand is an invaluable resource for deaf and hard of hearing children and families."
Shelby - Parent
"We are blessed with three beautiful daughters, two of which have mild to moderate hearing loss. Both girls were diagnosed late, not until kindergarten. Both girls miraculously compensated to a point and were able to mask their hearing defference. Once diagnosed, the overwhelming process of how to help them best began. Many decisions regarding what brand, what type of hearing aid, what accessories or augmentive equipment to purchase to aid in their hearing were brought to our attention. Parents of children with hearing differences NEED networking and support. Hand N Hand is so much more than that. Hand N Hand is a place where my daughters can see other children experiencing similar issues, where parents can discuss and share information. Hand N Hand is a place where my daughters can celebrate their uniqueness with other children alike. Hand N Hand helps teach my daughters that being hearing impaired is NOT a disability, but a way of life. Their hearing may bring struggles, but Hand N Hand offers the support and encouragement to battle and overcome struggles. My daughters are now thankful for the many opportunities that they have been a part of because of their hearing…many of which are because of Hand N Hand. Hand N Hand is also the only place where sign language is taught to children with hearing loss in this region."
Vicki & Jim - Parents
"Our daughter was born in 2010. Failing her “at birth hearing test” we redid the test a week later and her hearing failed again. Being rerouted to Green Bay for further testing, they put her on ear drops to get the fluid out of her ears and scheduled surgery to have tubes put in; another test was performed resulting in a “fail”. The Doctor sat down with us and recommended Children's Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Upon meeting with the audiologist one of the first things she suggested is we don't go into this alone, there are many groups that have great support. In our area she recommended Jenny Geiken, whom is a Deaf Educator. She also runs HAND-N-HAND, which is a group for kids with hearing loss, so they can play and grow with other kids that have disabilities similar to their own. In the past year HAND-N-HAND has helped us by teaching us sign language and hosting weekly playgroups providing the kids a fun learning experience with activities, get togethers, field trips and learning activities at little to no cost to us."
Jill & Rod - Parents