Since the Harold C. Schott Respite Center opened its doors in 1998, more than 200 families have taken part in the program. Individual visits range from a couple days to around a week. The time at SJH provides families the ability to have a physical and emotional break from the demands of caring for a loved one with high medical needs. I have had the privilege of getting to know many of these families over the years and building strong relationships with them. Through numerous conversations, some families have come to share the ups and downs they face daily when caring for someone with multiple medical needs.
I have said many times, “I don’t know how families do it!” The physical demands on a 24 hour basis are daunting for me and I don’t live it. For many though, physical demands don’t seem to be what weighs on them most. It seems that the little things most of us take for granted are impacting these families the most. Funding is always a concern, some on a waiting list for a waiver for as long as possibly 20 years. Sometimes, getting services you need once you have funding can prove to be just as difficult. Many times it is thought that once a family gets money for assistance all problems are solved but sometimes this simply is not true.
The supports needed in our community go far beyond that in financial nature. Families at times can feel overwhelmed because they don’t have a lot of emotional support from the broader community. So many people are struggling to just get through one more day.
So what do we do in a world that has gotten so busy that we have to make appointments just for time to ourselves? It may be as simple as opening our eyes to the world around us as we are traveling through it. Being sure to take the time getting to know your neighbors and co-workers or talking with your server at a restaurant. Making eye contact and giving thanks for help to the person assisting you at the gas station or store. Forming friendships outside of social media, email, or text could lead to positive change in your life and those you build relationships with. All it takes is a, “Hello!” or, “How are you?” asking, “Do you need help?” and even sometimes what can be difficult for some, “Could you please help me?”
I know the problems in the lives of the families we work with at St. Joseph Home are not simple. There are many people around us that are in desperate need of support and they are not just the families who come to St Joseph Home. Individuals who need physical, financial, emotional, or social supports are part of every community. Through opening up to the world around us we can all be a part of the help. This could be through donating financially, volunteering your time, sharing experiences to others who may not have traveled where you have, to as simple as being present with someone making them feel valued and heard. How do you think you can help?
By: Greg Cox, Respite and Day Program Manager