Dear Open Sky Supporter,
When Becky and Scott Annis were invited to a friend’s wedding, their focus wasn’t on what hotel to stay at, what shoes to wear, or if they’d have the chicken or the fish.
It was on their daughter, Katie.
Katie is 26 and has an intellectual disability. Although she attends an employment program during the day, she needs daily support and can’t be left alone for a whole weekend. While many of Becky and Scott’s friends can go on vacation without a second thought, caregivers of people with disabilities have different priorities.
Once a child transitions out of the school system, there are endless challenges for the parent and child.
Fewer activities and opportunities to socialize. Lack of routine. Less support for the caregiver. And less time for the caregiver to take care of themselves.
That’s where the Open Sky Family Support Center comes in.
The Family Support Center serves hundreds of families throughout the Blackstone Valley who have a family member with an intellectual or developmental disability, or Autism.
Originally starting with virtual activities, the Center was a lifeline during the pandemic. When Katie was at home with nowhere to go, she had the opportunity to do yoga, dance, and Tai Chi right from her living room.
Although things she enjoyed were shut down, like swimming with her Special Olympics team, she could take virtual painting class with friends, and have fun from home.
As things re-opened in person, Becky, Scott, and other parents began to talk with staff about new program ideas, like an adult respite program.
With guidance from staff and excitement from parents, they set to work creating the Saturday Activities Club. This program gives individuals like Katie a chance to spend time with peers, and give parents some time to run errands, meet a friend for coffee, or just have some time for self-care.
Although it is one day a week for now, they plan for it to grow and cover multiple days to provide families with the regular support they need.
While the activities calendar and Saturday Activities Club provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to go apple picking, try yoga or paint, the Center strives to support the whole family.
Through trainings and resources on financial planning, school transition, insurance, transportation and more, they are ensuring families like Becky, Scott, and Katie are able to navigate often-confusing systems.
Programs like the Family Support Center become even more important as parents near or pass retirement age, and struggle to provide the same opportunities for their adult children.
In-person and virtual activities give individuals a chance to make friends and learn skills. Trainings provide parents with the guidance they need, and staff can connect parents to resources such as Open Sky’s Adult Family Care program, which provides caregivers with a stipend for simply taking care of their loved one.
The Open Sky Family Support Center is trying to make it just a little bit easier for families of people with disabilities in the Blackstone Valley. There are many in our community searching for guidance as their children transition out of school, or seek benefits. There are parents looking for support so they can have just a few minutes to take care of themselves. And there are individuals who want opportunities and relationships that will help them to live a fulfilling life.
With your support Open Sky can continue to offer programs like this to families throughout our region.
You have the power to make sure no family feels lost in the system, and to make sure no individual feels alone.
Help us ensure these programs continue for families like Becky, Scott, and Katie by donating to Open Sky at openskycs.org/support. We thank you in advance, from the bottom of our hearts, for your generosity.
Chair, Board of Directors
Open Sky Community Services