Ben is like any other teenager. He likes to eat, watch movies, play baseball, and likes his space. Ben is also quite the joker. “One of our best memories was when Ben’s mom was pregnant. He used to put a ball under his shirt and pat his stomach!” said Selina Loughridge, Respite Center Coordinator.
Ben is one of the Respite Center’s participants. He started attending the Respite Center several years ago when it was under Family Support Services’ umbrella of programs. Laura, Ben’s mom, was familiar with the program after she worked for Family Support Services during a Summer Camp session. Ben has several developmental disabilities, so the high level of care and understanding, as well as the staff’s familiarity with Ben, make Laura feel comfortable leaving him in their care one weekend every month. “I love it that I feel secure because my child is being taken care of by people who love to work with him,” said Laura. “I don’t have to worry.”
Ben has grown up before his parents and the Respite Center’s staff’s eyes. When Ben first started with the program, he didn’t want to go to the Respite Center. Today, Ben comes to the Respite Center one weekend every month and he gets excited about the weekends away at his “hotel” (as his family refers to the center). “When he knows it’s time to go he packs up everything he needs and is ready. He looks forward to it because he knows his friends will be there,” explained Laura.
The Respite Center is a relaxing place, but Ben doesn’t stay idle. Ben enjoys the center’s trips to the bowling alley and to the movies, and he loves to take walks with the staff and his friends —anything where he can stay in motion or laugh. One of his favorite trips every year is the Respite Center’s annual three-day overnight summer camping trip.
“He is always happy and loves to play,” said Selina. “Ben dances and plays with staff. Sometimes he gets so tickled that he can’t stop laughing.”
Along with the Respite Center, Ben is active with the SOAR program’s Teen Club, break camps, and summer camp. His family uses the In-Home Respite program, as well.