WHEATFIELD (WKBW) Being the caregiver for a person with a developmental disability can be a twenty-four seven job, with many dedicating their lives to look after a loved one. One local home here in Western New York is out to give back to those who give so much.
Joe Ball's son Kevin is 26 years old, and has Angelman Syndrome.
"He is intellectually handicapped. He has a very short attention span, requires 24/7 supervision, and help with a lot of his daily needs," he said.
So from time to time, Joe and his wife need a break. That is where the Northtowns Respite House comes in. This five bedroom home in Wheatfield is operated by People Inc. to give caregivers of those with developmental disabilities some free time.
"It's kind of like a kid's hangout spot. They get to come here, they get to hang out with their peers, with the staff that are here, and their parents get a night away. They can go to a movie, go out of town, and they know that their kids are in a safe and secure environment," Senior Program Manager at the Respite House Jordan Key said.
"It was our 35th wedding anniversary and we actually went on a ten day cruise, and without this as a possibility, that wasn't going to happen," Ball added.
The house serves about 112 different families, individuals of all different ages and disabilities. Trained staff there do all kinds of activities, from cooking to art, to Kevin's favorite: music.
"It's almost like a big family. Everyone's having a good time, it's almost like when I was 26 and going to hang out with my friends, and doing an overnighter somewhere," Ball said.
Serving all of Niagara, Cattaraugus, and parts of Erie County, the specially designed house has handicap bathrooms, a sensory room, and can sleep up to five people. But what about cost?
"That's actually the best part about the service. It's run through a home and community based waiver, so everything is billed through Medicare. So the family has zero cost to bring their loved one here," Key answered.
Decorated with art of many of its visitors, the Respite House has become a home away from home for many who stay there. From field trips to friendships, it has become a big part of the lives of people like Kevin Ball.
"Granted his life is different, and some of the things are limited, but this is a freedom for him and that's a good thing," Joe Ball said.
"For some of these families, this house could be their sanity. They definitely need the service and need the break, and it's great that we can help the families with that while giving their kids the opportunity to do something that they love," Jodran Key added.
For more on the Northtowns Respite House or the Downing Respite House in Bowmansville, check out their website http://www.people-inc.org/children_services_home/respite_opportunities/respite_programs/index.html