Finding Friendship in Independence

Provided by Carefor
Finding Friendship in Independence
Matthew Runions and Sabrina Lister at the Annual Award Banquet and Holiday Meal in 2019.

We all like our independence, but we likely have come to take it for granted.  For people living with disabilities, independence is something they strive for every day. Through the Carefor Befriending Program’s Social Club, adults with physical disabilities can feel a sense of freedom from their everyday challenges by spending time with their friends.

Matt Runions has been a member of the Social Club for over 15 years and is fond of his Carefor family. “We’re all friends here, and it’s a lot of fun,” Matt explained. From going bowling to now doing activities online, Matt knows he can count on the group to feel independent and included. He shared, “This is my thing I can do without my parents. Although I do like going for coffee and other things with them, this is just for me.” Club activities also allow caregivers to unwind and gives them peace of mind knowing their loved one is safe with the Club.

Lisa Steer-Vachon, Team Leader of the Social Club for the past 10 years has seen firsthand the impact autonomy has had on the 110 members of the Club. “This program is important because everyone should have peers that they can socialize with and confide in,” Lisa explained. For Club members, a sense of independence helps build their self-confidence and can make them feel more empowered and fulfilled through engagement with others outside their family circle. Lisa shared, “Independence promotes confidence and self esteem. It helps people feel secure, strong and makes everyone less vulnerable. Our members find support and encouragement outside of the home.”

An important element the Befriending Program prides itself on is offering inclusive activities, where members can choose to participate without barriers. Lisa explained, “Having accessible activities is what really brings people together. Everyone in the group knows no matter what we’re doing and where we’re doing it, it’s going to be accessible and they feel a sense of independence. Trying something new is always a little scary but our program encourages each other to do everything we can to live a life filled with friendship and laughs.”

Matt, who lives with his loving parents looks forward to being able to be see his friends in-person once the Club can congregate. Matt shared, “I miss my friends, and can’t wait to see them. This Club is important to me and all of them.”

The Carefor Befriending Program relies on donations to offer safe and accessible activities to its 110 members year-round across the Eastern Counties. You can support these activities by making a donation today.

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