Learn About KenCrest’s Lifesharing Program
This October is Lifesharing Awareness Month, and KenCrest recognizes the various providers and partners making a difference.
By Sydney Kerelo
This October, KenCrest recognizes the many Lifesharing families we support for Lifesharing Awareness Month. But what is Lifesharing?
Lifesharing is about opening one’s heart and home to someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a shared, supportive family environment.
Claudette Boyer, a Pennsylvania nurse and a KenCrest Lifesharing provider worked with people with disabilities in the past and instantly fell in love. After moving back to Pennsylvania from Colorado, her husband and her made the decision to start Lifesharing.
“I used to supervise a group home for about 25-30 years,” she says. “When I moved back here from Colorado and met my husband, we talked about Lifesharing and how I wanted to do it. He’s never been around people with disabilities, but I knew he would love it just from who he is and how kind he is. And he did.”
Shortly after, Boyer and her husband welcomed Titi into their home.
The journey at first was hard because Titi was transferred from her original Lifesharing family to Boyer’s. She was cautious and a bit distrustful at first because she missed her family, but almost immediately she developed an amazing connection with Boyer’s husband. According to Boyer, she loved him, and he adored her right back.
“Shortly after she moved in, though, she started having health problems,” says Boyer with a sigh. “She was diagnosed with stage four Ovarian cancer. We kept her in right up until the end in her home, safe and comfortable because that’s what she wanted. She didn’t want to go to a hospice facility; she wanted to pass at home. So that’s what she did.”
But before she passed, towards the end of her life, Titi told Boyer that she wanted to go to the beach. So, they rented a vehicle big enough to make her comfortable and set off for a week at Myrtle Beach.
“She loved the beach,” reminisces Boyer. “While there, we ensured that she had a balcony with an oceanfront view so she could sit out on the balcony and watch people pass or listen to the ocean.”
It’s been two years since Titi’s passing, and Boyer still has photos of her scattered throughout her home.
This is what Lifesharing is, caring for and supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a family environment. And that’s what Boyer did. Boyer and her husband now have a new Lifesharing partner, David, and they love him just as fiercely as they did Titi.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, “Means living with and sharing life experiences with supportive persons who form a caring household. Lifesharing is recognized as both a close personal relationship and a place to live.” Lifesharing offers people the opportunity to be a part of a family and a community, whether that be with someone new or a family member.
Here at KenCrest, Lifesharing Provider families must provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. Providers must complete the KenCrest-funded background check and clearances, have a sustainable income, be in good health, provide multiple references and complete the required training before participating.
“Lifesharing is just about being their friend, their sister or brother,” says Boyer. “It’s about being a person that is concerned about them, finding out their wants, their needs, and helping them achieve it.”