Fundraisers by the Memphis area council of the Tennessee Family Support Program, encompassing Shelby and Fayette counties, are helping ease the wait for five people with disabilities on a 1200-person-deep list for service.
The program helps hundreds of people across the state, but there's not enough state funding to immediately provide services for everyone. Through fundraisers, the local council tries to help meet the need. Five thousand dollars has been raised since February 2013.
Jeri Henry is paralyzed on her left side, and receives dialysis treatments. She also has other major health concerns. She'll now have new avenues for help.
"This is a blessing and will allow me to explore the option of getting a personal assistant or maybe even be able to get a device like the Life Alert," said Henry.
Ollie Adams has had a stroke and faces other serious conditions. She'll now get help with the specialized nutrition and supplies she has difficulty affording due to being on a fixed income.
Henry and Adams, along with Sarah Frazier and Keith Mayhew, were selected by Tennessee Family Support Local Council #9 to receive help. Sarah is a nine-year-old Fayette County resident with cerebral palsy who needs extensive dental work due to her disability. She'll now get help. Mayhew's family will receive respite care. One of the five individuals helped preferred not to be identified. They're among the 1200 people on the waiting list for services in the Memphis area.
"This is truly a blessing to Sarah and our family," said Sanda Yarbro, guardian and grandmother of Sarah. "This will allow us to explore options to look at the dental work she needs done."
The selections were determined by the formula used by the state to determine the amount of funding awarded each county, which is based on available funding an individual's qualifying disabilities.
The Tennessee legislature created the Family Support Program in 1992 to help people with "severe disabilities and their families to remain together in their homes and communities," according to the Family Support Web site. The program's services include respite care, personal assistance, transportation, homemaker and several other supports. Local and district councils meet regularly to "oversee and provide advice on the distribution of local services."
Wanda Baker is the local council chairwoman. Cherry Davis is director of the SRVS Family Support Program, which provides care for more than 390 families, including the five individuals who were selected to receive support from the recent fundraisers. Family Support assistance is available to people who are unable to meet their needs through other agencies, organizations or funding sources.
"Because the demand for services is so great, we were very pleased with the success of our fundraisers, which help supplement state funding," said Baker. She helped coordinate the most recent fundraiser, which was held at SRVS and included testimonials from recipients of family support services and family members.
"SRVS is working with Local Council District 9 to do everything we can to help alleviate the tremendous need experienced by so many people with disabilities in our area," said Davis.
"Each year securing funding for the Family Support program is a challenge. We are hopeful that our outreach efforts this year will be successful in maintaining funding for the program."