Just in time for holiday giving, the Livermore Lioness Club, the nonprofit sister club of the Livermore Lions, is offering city residents a chance to help out a family in dire need.

They are fundraising to help support the Bronikowiski-Stratton family, who are raising two children with autism from two separate marriages. Two immediate needs the Lioness club hopes to meet with this fundraiser are iPads that will help the two autistic boys communicate basic needs. The club is seeking donations for the iPads and also special software for autism to install on the iPads.

Autism is a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

Heather Stratton said that more than money, the family needs support from the community so they don't feel so alone.

Tomasz Branikowiski's son, also named Tomasz, is 8 and has Mosaic Fragile X with nonverbal autism. This is the most severe form of autism. Tomasz Jr. had been living with his mother in Oklahoma but Heather said he was not receiving enough care and therapy, so they had him move to California with them in July. They call him "Bubby."

"Families with disabled children are in need emotionally more than financially," said Stratton. "Bubby has been here since July, and other then school, we have no services for him. We have no support in our home, which individually is slowly tearing our family up. So this nice gesture from the Lioness Club will fulfill some needs in our home and provide some smiles."

If any of our readers have information about support groups or other advice for Heather as she struggles to raise two special-needs boys, please write her at intelligiblefam@gmail.com. Heather had to quit her job as a hair stylist when they took Tomasz Jr. into their home.

The couple has two other boys who do not have autism, one of whom had to move to his grandparents' house in Poland because Heather and Tomasz had their hands full with two autistic children. They hope someday to bring their other son Lucas, 10, home from Poland. Heather's son from a previous marriage, Benjamyn, 6, has a milder form of autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

The Livermore Lioness Club is asking for tax-deductible donations that can be made directly to the following locations:

  • Bank of the West Heather Stratton Account, 2287 Second St., Livermore CA 94550

  • Lioness Anita Pasch 1160 Apache Street, Livermore, CA 94551

  • Lioness Betty Harvey 828 Olivina Ave., #1, Livermore, CA 94551

    The Livermore Lions club is one of the oldest community service clubs in Livermore. They hold a dinner meeting on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Emil Villa's BBQ Restaurant, 3064 Pacific Ave. Anyone interested in joining the club is encouraged to attend or contact President Ben Barrientos at 925-449-9974 or bbarrientos@earthlink.net.

    Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@bayareanewsgroup.com.