A Family’s Unforgettable Journey of Biological Lifesharing


After the passing of their mother, Sisters Lara and Sandy embark on a new journey as Lifesharing partners.

By Sydney Kerelo

When Pennsylvania resident Lara Schwarz received the news that her mother had passed away, her first thought was, “Who’s going to take care of Sandy?”

Lara’s oldest sister, Sandy, was born with an intellectual disability and was cared for by their mother her entire life. So, when she passed, it was a shock to the sisters. But Lara knew her responsibility was to care for Sandy and ensure she had a fulfilling life. So, by the end of October of that same year, Lara moved in with Sandy, and they began searching for resources. 

“I moved in at first just to figure out what would come next and to try and maintain a sense of continuity for Sandy,” says Lara. “I wanted her to have all her relationships still and continue living her life normally.”

When Sandy was approved for her waiver for services, her support coordinator informed them of Sandy’s community living options, and Lifesharing was one of them.

KenCrest’s Lifesharing program has brought together more than 140 people with an intellectual or developmental disability in Pennsylvania since 1985. Some families have even been together for over 30 years; others for their whole lives. Many of KenCrest’s Lifesharing partners are biological relatives looking to continue caring for their family members, which is what Lara and Sandy did.

RELATED: Learn About KenCrest’s Lifesharing Program

Shortly after being introduced to Lifesharing, the duo began filing the paperwork so Lara could become Sandy’s legal guardian and caregiver. After months of filling out paperwork and visiting doctors’ offices for checkups, Lara finally became Sandy’s official Lifesharing Provider in July 2023.

“We were basically living in a Lifesharing situation already, just without the help of an agency,” Lara says. “But as a biological Lifesharing provider, there were a lot of things about disability services that I didn’t know, so I needed the additional support so I could better help Sandy. I think it’s important to have an agency like KenCrest supporting her and ensuring her life is good.”


Lara and Sandy // Photo by Sydney Kerelo

One of the most significant and essential things Lara wanted out of this partnership was to ensure Sandy could live her life the way she wanted and have a future for herself.  And she now has that with Lara.

As her Lifesharing provider, it’s Lara’s duty now to focus on Sandy’s growth and development. The goal of Lifesharing is to allow the individual to be cared for and to incorporate that person into the family’s life, traditions, goals, and values in a lasting and caring environment, which was easy for Lara and Sandy because they grew up together. They already know everything about each other and can support one another physically and emotionally. They have a sibling connection that can’t be broken.

RELATED: A KenCrest Family United Through Lifesharing

After three years of living together and three months as Lifesharing Partners, the sisters have established a routine that works for them. And while they bicker and argue like siblings do, they genuinely love spending time together.

“We both kind of do our thing, but we are there for each other,” says Lara. “She is probably the best roommate I’ve ever had.”

Have you considered becoming a Lifesharing provider? Learn more about KenCrest’s program below!