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Gary's Story

Keeping your children close

Elsie is like many other moms – she strongly advocates for her son. Gary is a lot like other Central Minnesota men of his 50 something age group: He enjoys old cars, playing video games, watching television and bowling. He volunteers in his community and goes to church on Saturday.
Gary was born with cerebral palsy. He is profoundly developmentally disabled and is unable to communicate verbally. Instead, he uses a book of pictures.
Gary has received services his entire life; beginning with those offered in the special education department at his school. But, like most people who are developmentally disabled, those school services stopped when he turned 21.
When the family heard about Catholic Charities In-Home Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (then called Waivered Services) they asked to be added to the waiting list.
“I can still remember the day we got the call that Gary had been accepted into the program,” says Elsie. “I was so excited!”
“The program is excellent,” says Elsie. “He gets both recreational and educational time.” Gary spends time with staff on Mondays, Wednesdays and two weekends per month. On Mondays, Gary and Karen (his usual staff member) will take a walk in the park, or go to the mall and play arcade games. At some point during their outings, they’ll get a snack or meal. Karen gently reminds Gary of appropriate social behavior, and helps him remember how to make choices about spending his money.
On Wednesdays, Karen accompanies Gary to volunteer at a local nursing home, an opportunity she arranged for him. “He empties wastebaskets and folds towels, people there have been very good to him.”
Karen and Elsie coordinate schedules for Gary's two weekend days of service per month. Elsie says “If we have a wedding or anniversary to go to, Karen will schedule that day as her time with Gary so Elmer and I can enjoy some events just as a couple.”
On weekends, Gary and Karen might go bowling with Gary's friends who are developmentally disabled, or they might see a movie. “We always have him home in time for mass on Saturday,” says Karen.
“The program is really a respite for my husband and I,” says Elsie. “We used to do all of these things for Gary, but now, as we age, Catholic Charities helps us keep Gary living with us – and that keeps us young.”