Our family joined PLAN as Lifetime Members, over fifteen years ago. At the time Erin was entering her last years of high school and we were worried about the years to come in our journey. After attending a PLAN workshop series on Future Planning we realized that we had found like-minded families who also wanted to help create safe and secure futures for their family members. As her mom, I felt some relief and excitement for what was to come.
Because Erin had the benefit of an inclusive education, she had managed to make some wonderful caring friends during her school years. My husband, Ric, and I were, however, worried that when school ended these friendships might end as these young people would be going off to university and travelling, getting married, etc. We decided that this was the right time to begin developing Erin’s network.
It was and is, not always an easy process. The development of a network takes vision, great patience and faith in the process. It is not always easy to ask people to join in relationship with our family member. What if they say “no”? Will we be hurt, will it change our friendship? Usually as families we are so used to being self-reliant. It takes a big leap of faith to not only begin a network but also to stick with it when times are rough.
But is it ever worth it! While Erin has had many terrific experiences with her network friends over the years, Ric and I had a wonderful experience ourselves recently.
Ric retired last year from his teaching career and he was presented with a gift certificate towards travel. We decided we wanted to take a two week cruise to Mexico, but didn’t know how we could possible manage to get the necessary care for Erin so we could be away for two weeks. We had never done this before. We did what we as families are always told to do: we took it to the network!
Our wonderful community connector made up a 2 week chart with the support we already had marked in, and then presented it to the network with the request that if any of them could help out, could they please sign up. We weren’t there to see it but by the end of the meeting all the times had been filled in by her friends. We were moved to tears! Suffice to say we had a wonderful holiday, Erin was supported by her friends and she had a wonderful 2 weeks away from us as well. She has had many new experiences with her network: regular pedicures and lunches/dinners out, weekends away, wedding showers, baby showers, camping, sleepovers, etc.
Erin has a life that we never dared dream of and we now have great confidence that she has a wonderful future ahead of her.
Shared by Pat Tesan