By Hailey Squiers, Mulitmedia Journalist, see the original KTRE story here.
Lufkin, TX (KTRE-TV)
Three years ago, Bernice Jackson and her husband Robert Jackson were newcomers to Lufkin. But, something just didn’t feel right.
“After Leroy came into our home, I began to feel like a normalcy,” said Jackson. “Because that’s all we’ve done since we’ve been adults.”
The Jacksons’ passion for helping those with special needs was perfect for the Companion Host Care program through Burke, where they were matched with Leroy Butler. According to Kasandra Malone, a supervisor for Burke, this program was created to get those with intellectual developmental disabilities out of group home and into a family-type environment.
“You have staff coming in and out 24 hours, and you don’t get to form that personal bond,” Malone said. “When you’re living in a host companion care home, you can kind of just do your own thing.”
Butler is able to do just about anything, including helping his caregivers out around the house.
“When it’s time for me to barbecue, he wants to come out and participate, you know, hand me the wood and help me light it and stuff,” Jackson said. “He’s been a blessing.”
Butler might have trouble speaking, but those that know him are amazed at how he’s grown.
“I’ve seen change in his actions and his behaviors,” Malone said. “And, it’s an accomplishment to be able to come from a group home into the community and be able to do the same things that other people do around them.”
Jackson explained why becoming a host in this program isn’t that difficult.
“They have the same needs that we do,” said Jackson. “You just have to build a relationship and that comes with time. You just take care of him like you take care of yourself.”
The program is currently looking for more families interested in providing temporary foster care to these individuals. For more information on the program and how to become a host, visit our host companion care program page.