Community Learns Sign Language, So They Can Speak To A Deaf Baby Girl

It is a story of immense love and care shown by a community in Newton to their newest member–a two-year-old girl born deaf.

Little Samantha is just 2-years-old but as her mom Glenda Savitz held her protectively during a sign class at a neighbor’s home, it gave out such strong community vibes that only the ones who live along the banks of the Charles River will know.

A love story between a little girl who’s deaf and neighbors who are all trying to be as involved as possible in raising this beautiful little girl will melt your heart.

Her twenty odd neighbors all sit in silence along with her and her mom to learn a new language so that they can all be a part of her life and community.

“This child will always be a child of this neighborhood,’’

said Terry Nowak, who grew up and raised three children here.

“We will all be participants in helping her as she grows. We do that with each other’s children. The community is already in place. This is just a new way to express it.’’

Samantha’s parents, Glenda and Raphael Savitz were married in 2013. They moved to Auburndale in 2016.

The neighbors in the neighborhood greeted the couple with great joy. There were plates of cookies. There were greetings from neighbors in kayaks, bearing the promises of friendship. This is a place where elderly neighbors’ driveways are shoveled without prompting. If you’re sick, expect a casserole.

Three months later, they were blessed with a baby girl. In the first week, the screening tests showed that the newborn was deaf.

“She was the first deaf person my husband and I had known,”

said Glenda Savitz.

“So it’s a surprise. Unexpected. But I think I’m someone who’s like: OK. What do we do? She’s a week old. We’re going to be learning sign language. There was no question that was going to be important to her development and her growth.’’

The couple received an amazing support from the community.

“We all have had children of our own and we were excited that this new baby was coming, There can be nothing better. Then there was this additional challenge.’’

said Jill McNeil.

“You see Sam and it’s frustrating not to be able to say, ‘Oh, I love your pretty pink pants.’ We wanted to take that away. We didn’t want them to have that extra struggle if there was anything we could damn well do about it.’’

A set of sculpted hands that say “I love you Sam” in sign language.

Now, most of the people at one end of the Islington Road speaks American Sign Language as the second tongue. How this happened? It’s because of their precious baby girl Samantha Savitz. When her parents decided to teach Sam sign language, the neighbors didn’t let her practice it alone.

“She’s such a cute girl. Everybody’s desperate to want to communicate with her. People are working hard so they’ll have something to say. She’s like a sponge. We’re giving it a yeoman’s try.’’

said Lucia Marshall.

Jill McNeil learns sign language at a neighbor’s home.

This story has made me so happy and hopeful about our world. What a wonderful neighborhood.


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