Aaron’s Staff gives caretakers a break
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
ALABASTER—Since 2010, Aaron’s Staff Respite Care Ministries has offered evening care for special needs children and their siblings, giving parents and guardians a night off. The service is provided completely free of charge to families through the support of donors and volunteers.
The Alabaster-based nonprofit hosted the Third Annual Gala on Nov. 1 at the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church of Alabaster. One of two main fundraising events for the organization, the gala raised more than $12,500.
“Aaron’s Staff is a reliable, safe place. The environment is adaptive to our kids moods and needs,” Kristi Samson said, noting her two children “full on sprint to the car” when it’s time to go to Aaron’s Staff.
“We know without any doubt, they love all the kids, but they take the time to understand our kids with special needs,” Lynne Pepe said of her family’s experience with Aaron’s Staff.
Aaron’s Staff offers respite care in Alabaster and recently expanded to Montevallo through a recent partnership with the University of Montevallo’s Best Buddies program.
“We pair up with kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (and form) one-on-one friendships,” Montevallo student and Best Buddies Chapter President Amanda Curry said. “We are so excited to see where the future is going to take us with Aaron’s Staff.”
Aaron’s Staff is working to expand operations and offer respite care to more communities across the state.
“We’re trying to enlarge our service and start them in other areas,” Aaron’s Staff financial officer Conway Todhunter said. “Wherever there’s a need, we’re willing to talk to folks there and get that set up.”
Robert Montgomery, a motivational speaker, and Pelham Police Officer Dustin Chandler also spoke at the Nov. 1 gala.
Best known as Carly’s dad, Chandler spoke about life with his daughter Carly who suffers from the rare neurological condition CDKL5, and his involvement in the recent passage of Carly’s Law and all-inclusive playground, Carly’s Clubhouse.
“They are our children, even if they’re non-verbal, they have a voice and they will be heard,” Chandler said, noting the importance of advocating for the special needs community.
For more information about Aaron’s Staff, visit Aaronsstaffrespite.org.