BUFFALO, NY — A Buffalo mother, who can no longer visit her son with special needs at group home because of COVID-19, has found a safe and uplifting solution. The mother and son are embracing the #Buffalo Strong spirit.
“How about we start out with Amazing Grace?”, Jolene Baller asks her son. “Amazing Grace…”, sang Joseph Baller.
27-year-old Joseph Baller sings through his bedroom window at a People Incorporated group home on Buffalo’s west side.
Mother, Jolene Baller, who has worked as a radio DJ for years, started teaching him songs when he was a young boy.
“And so I started teaching him Motown and rock and roll and the Beatles and The Stones, Baller explained.
Joseph, born in 1993 was a preemie, and has Cerebral Palsy.
“He’s in a wheelchair and he's about five or six in his brain. I think he's brilliant,” Ballard said.
Jolene lives just a couple of blocks from her son's group home. Normally, they are inseparable.
“Music, church and burgers are Joe's favorite things,” Baller described.
But under temporary state guidelines, families are no longer allowed to visit group homes.
“My heart broke and everybody was saying ‘oh Jolene he'll be fine’ and I was like I know he'll be fine, it's me I'm worried about,” declared Baller.
Jolene says after being in a deep funk for a few days, she came up with a solution.
“I knew that the back of the group home. Joe's window, from his bedroom faced there, and so I grabbed my sturdy microphone and I asked them. I won't come in but please raise the blind and they did,” Baller said.
The songs that jolene and Joseph share are linking them together in this new normal.
“We just started singing and laughing. His face would be good and we always do a bunch of prayers and then a few rock and roll songs and then a few hymns and then it's like — see you in a few days buddy and that's it,” Baller recalls.
Jolene praises People Inc. and the staff who cares for Joseph and many other children, adults and elderly. She calls them "warriors" as they deal with this public health crisis.
"It has eased my mind so much to know that People Inc. is doing all that they can to keep their thousands of troops in WNY employed and caring for our loved ones. The day habs are closed now, but many of the aides from there are caring for kids like my Joe at the group homes! They are warriors on the front lines and I am forever grateful," Baller said.