PALMETTO, Ga. (BP)–It’s 3 a.m. and a tired, worn mother hovers over the bed of her child. Getting Tommy to bed was another battle, and even though his eyes are closed and his breathing is steady, she wonders who won the war when her heart is breaking and there is no relief in sight.
Her dreams are not of vacations in the Bahamas or steak dinners, but of one moment of peace without worry about her child who lives each day with autism. Is there anyone who hears the cry of her heart for a time of rest? How much longer can she go on?
What is the solution? It’s Matthew’s Time respite weekends offered by Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries, Inc. The new program is named in memory of Matthew Alan Reddish who passed away March 1998 after living 13 years with severe disabilities.
Aubrey Hawkins and his wife, Mary, Matthew’s grandparents, gave a $10,000 endowment to GBCH&FM to sponsor programs for children with disabilities. Matthew’s Time is just one program developed to serve families living with disabilities.
GBCH&FM held the first weekend session of the new Matthew’s Time program in March at the Palmetto Campus for parents in north Georgia. Parents brought the children Friday night and then left for a weekend of rest until Sunday afternoon.
What did the children do?
Two counselors were assigned to each child to insure that special needs were met. Despite rainy weather, the weekend was filled with indoor softball and beach ball volleyball, as well as an exciting field trip to the Butterfly House and greenhouse at Callaway Gardens.
What did the parents do?
For one couple, it was their first weekend alone together since their son was born with autism.
For another mom, the weekend was a time to curl up in the bed, watch movies and go out to eat dinner with friends.
Each parent knew their child was getting the best of care. Parents had a chance to take a breath, close their eyes or spend hours catching up on sleep. Their only focus was to take care of themselves, just as they take care of their child 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sunday afternoon arrived and as children smiled to greet parents that were missed, parents hugged children with a renewed spirit and refreshed soul after a long weekend of respite.
“We want to be the knot at the end of the rope that helps parents get the strength to climb back up and care for these special children,” said Kenneth M. Dobbs, GBCH&FM president and chief executive officer. “Children are a gift from God and so is needed rest.”
Further information about the program may be obtained by calling the agency at (770) 463-3800.
Rice is a public relations associate with Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries, Inc.