This past weekend we had the opportunity to come in contact with a great organization, Aaron's Staff Respite Ministry. It's a group of volunteers who, every third Saturday of the month, get together at Linda Nolen Learning Center in Pelham, and provide parents of special needs children ages 0-21 years a chance to get away for a few hours for date night, errand-running, or just "me time". Medical staff is onsite and all volunteers must pass background checks, be CPR certified, and go through orientation. A nutritious dinner and snacks are provided along with structured activities and arts and crafts. All of this is FREE.
This ministry was recently started and is run by a couple who had a son with cerebral palsy and cared for him for 27 years, and felt called to help out other parents. It always inspires me when people who go through difficult, long-term challenges find a way to help others; looking for opportunities to give of themselves, and showing a servant's heart. It would be totally understandable for anyone in that position to take well-deserved time for themselves, to REST, but as a wise friend recently told me, "we're to be busy (helping others) now, we are promised rest later..." So true.
Tom and I had a wonderful dinner out with friends Saturday at one of my favorite restaurants...no kiddie meals, toppled kids cups, no rushing little ones to the potty, just a relaxing dinner! All with the peace of mind that our boys were being looked after by compassionate people who get it; and that's an important option especially since we do not have our families close by. I do not intend to exclude the sweet teenagers who sit for us, because we're blessed there too. This is just something we can look forward to every month. The boys loved their evening "out" too and said they want to go back, so it's a date!
If you or others you know live in the Birmingham area and are in need of respite care, I urge you to check them out by going to http://aaronsstaffrespite.org/ .