by Jen Kastner
ODESSA- For the first time ever, SHARE Respite Care in West Texas is offering free in-home sitter care and nursing care to special needs families.
10-year-old Olivia in Odessa has special needs. Her mother, Marianne Van Der Giessen, said, "We found out a month before she was born that there were going to be some issues and a problem and then we found out she has this rare chromosome disorder. It was so rare that nobody really knew anything about it."
Olivia has an array of developmental delays and she cannot walk.
"It's a challenge. She's young and she's going to get bigger and we have a long road to go," her father, Arie Van Der Giessen, said.
Despite her needs, she is still an absolute joy to her parents and her eight year old sister, Natalie.
"I like to play with her and I like to play Barbies with her in her room," Natalie said.
Raising a special needs child takes an enormous amount of work and sometimes parents just need a night off. That's why SHARE is offering a free in-home babysitting and nursing care to special needs families.
"The nurse we got we're blessed to have gotten because she's just fabulous with Olivia and it gives me a special opportunity to spend time with Natalie," Marianne said. "I would be willing to pay for this service but for it to be free and be run by such caring individuals is just amazing."
SHARE was given a $10,000 grant from the state to run the program but they say not enough families are taking advantage of it.
"Take this opportunity. It's wonderful. You can enjoy it and it's there so use it," Arie said.
The grant money to run the program must be used up by the end of August, so parents need to take advantage of it as soon as possible.
To participate, call Executive Director Tom Jones at (432) 218-4622.