Carol Snyder, a Girard resident and EHCA Life Sharing provider, has been named this year’s recipient of the Annual Excellence in Lifesharing Award for the PA Western Region. She received her award in October at the 2017 Lifesharing Conference, presented by Pennsylvania’s Lifesharing Coalition.
“Carol is amazing with Lonnie,” said Melissa Love, Director of Life Sharing at EHCA. “The bond they share is very special. Carol and Lonnie are an outstanding example of what successful Life Sharing looks like.”
Life Sharing is a licensed program that matches families willing to provide care in their own homes with individuals in need of supervised living. The providers receive compensation for the care they offer, but participants receive far more than a place to live. They find a real home and become part of a family.
Carol met Lonnie while working as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at an EHCA community home. He had come to EHCA from a state institution. Lonnie would not trust anyone and refused to make eye contact. Carol realized he was happiest when he was outdoors, so she began taking him on walks. One day during an afternoon stroll, Lonnie looked directly into Carol’s eyes for the first time and smiled. “I love you, too,” Carol responded.
When Carol was transferred to another EHCA home, Lonnie became sad and withdrawn again. He needed to hear Carol’s voice on the telephone to be happy. That is when someone suggested she take him home as a Life Sharing provider.
When he first moved in, Lonnie would not sit in a chair without first knowing what was behind him. Now he never bothers to check. Lonnie is not able to speak, but he has learned how to communicate. Carol knows he is happy when he shakes his head back and forth. Lonnie can no longer walk like he once could, so Carol bought a golf cart to take him on rides around the yard. She also drives him to watch trains and get ice cream, two things Lonnie loves.
Now 55 years old, Lonnie has been living in Carol’s home for nine years. The experience has enriched both of their lives.
“I’ve never been sorry, not for one second,” she said. “I wish I’d have gotten him years ago.”