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"I wanted to laugh again with people who get it."

Because you have special needs, too.


All aboard!

Your child has special needs-- and specialists, resources, literature and you! As a parent or caregiver of a child with special needs, you work hard to connect your child with all of those resources available to improve their health, education, and general quality of life. But what about you and your needs? The Mother Ship, Inc is dedicated to helping bridge the gap for caregivers of special needs children so you can take care of their own special needs. Because you matter, too.

We don’t provide treatment and we can’t cure ailments. We don’t know what lies ahead in your journey as a special needs parent, nor can we tell you which way to go. But we can make sure you don’t go it alone.


Welcome aboard The Mother Ship!

We know we can't fix the problem, and neither can you. But we can, through small gestures, let you, the special parents, know that you matter. We see them. We appreciate their struggle, and through a small gift, maybe we can lessen challenges even if only temporarily.  

The Mother Ship, Inc. is a nonprofit organization operating in Central Ohio including Franklin, Delaware, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway, Madison, and Union Counties, supporting the needs of local caregivers. We operate strictly on donations and are powered by volunteers. Gifts to The Mother Ship are tax-deductible under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.


Founded by a special needs mom

The Mother Ship, Inc. was founded in January 2015 by a special needs mom who witnessed a major gap in services that allowed too many caregivers to fall through the cracks due to the lack encouragement and supports needed to maintain appropriate self-care. A lawyer by trade, Emy founded the organization to fill that gap and provide supports necessary for caregivers to preserve their own health so that they may continue providing quality care for their children with special needs.


Powered by volunteers

The Mother Ship is a fully volunteer-operated and managed 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing grant opportunities and support events for special needs caregivers throughout Central Ohio. The board of directors is comprised of volunteers who not only guide The Mother Ship, but fundraise, coordinate events, and provide other opportunities for caregivers throughout the year.


Emy Trende, Founder and Treasurer 

Emy founded The Mother Ship in 2015, after reading a news story of a despondent mother of a child with special needs who harmed the child and then harmed herself. A lawyer by trade, Emy enjoys advocating for continued life and career success of men and women who take on an extra-special degree of parenting. She is the mother of three boys, and her oldest son is significantly impacted by autism spectrum disorder.


Kathryn Clausen, President

Kathryn joined The Mother Ship board in 2018. As a special needs mother herself, she enjoys lending her talents to propel the TMS mission and help uplift special needs caregivers. Kathryn has committed her professional career to the nonprofit sector and has nearly 20 years’ experience in nonprofit mission-driven work and communications. She received her graduate degree from Kent State University where she studied mass communication and works full-time advocating for low-income Ohioans. Kathryn lives in Central Ohio with her husband and their three children—two of whom have special needs. In her spare time, Kathryn enjoys drawing, painting, photography, and DIY projects. She is also an enthusiastic football and soccer fan. 


Michelle Ellis, Member of the Board

Born and raised in Central Ohio, Michelle is an avid volunteer not only for The Mother Ship but also for Propionic Acidemia Foundation and other organizations. She currently serves as the volunteer Executive Director of Programming and Outreach for The Mother Ship where she coordinates fundraising and special events, the Boosters and Parent Advisory Committee, and more. When Michelle is not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Dave, of 17 years, and her twins—one of whom has special needs. Michelle also enjoys hobbies including sports, music, art, and crafting.


Jessica Root, Secretary

Bio coming soon!

Interested in joining?

Do you live in the Central Ohio area and are you passionate about helping others in the special needs community? The Mother Ship is seeking new members to join the board of directors!

We are seeking expertise in the following areas: 

  • Event planning

  • Fundraising

  • Organizational management

  • Outreach and advocacy

  • Grant writing and management

  • Social media

  • and more!

Learn more by viewing the Board Member Job Description and get started, complete an application today and a member of the board will reach out to you soon. Upon completion of the online application, please email your resume to


Boosters and Parent Advisory

The Booster and Parent Advisory Committee is an ad hoc committee developed to identify caregivers undergoing particularly challenging events or circumstances, and provide opportunities for social, financial, and emotional reinforcement through gifts and events

coming soon!
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