The organization S.H.A.R.E. stands for "Sharing Hands a Respite Experience" and is located here in West Texas. S.H.A.R.E. partners with families with children with disabilities. They support efforts to establish and maintain strong and successful families.
I can't begin to tell you what the program means to me, because there just aren't enough words.
S.H.A.R.E. started as a respite program for children with disabilities: one Friday night per month, from 6 to 10 p.m., with activities for children with disabilities and their siblings, and a nurse on staff.
We lived in Plano then, prior to moving back to Midland. We were asked to speak about a respite program that we were a part of in Plano. Midland emulated that program and not only made it similar, but bigger and with more activities.
When we first started using S.H.A.R.E., our son was only 3. Initially, we used those 4 hours to go out to eat with the other parents. That started a bond that has lasted for 11 years.
We found so many wonderful things in common with the other parents. We would laugh at how the men would sit at one end of the table and the women at the other end, comparing stories of our children's escapades.
As the years have progressed, we still enjoy going out occasionally with other parents, but at times when we are so tired, we also like to just sneak home, take a bath, eat a quick bite, and sometimes take a nap. Four precious hours is the best gift ever.
The program has allowed us to make lifelong friends. S.H.A.R.E. hosts Christmas and Valentine's Day parties, Halloween activities, activities for siblings, swimming parties just for the families, and so much more.
I think one of the other very beneficial services has been counseling for any member of the family. Talking to an unbiased person that offers emotional support has been invaluable after a rough year of job loss and turbulent times in our family.
The sibling activities have also been another very important benefit for us. It gave our oldest son a place to talk with other siblings about having a brother with disabilities and the joys and worries that come with being a sibling. They realize they all have a common bond and they, too, have formed close friendships.
S.H.A.R.E. offers our community an entire array of much-needed services that aren't offered by anyone else. They have created many new friendships among the hundreds of families that have used their services.
Many of the long-time members, such as myself, have been referred to as SHAMILY. Combining, of course, the words Family and SHARE. So yes, we are SHAMILY, I got all my sisters and ME!!!!
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.