Written by Lisa Dokter, VP of Special Projects at Easterseals Colorado
Every holiday, family get together and life event, my 2nd cousins – Roy, Nola and Mary were in attendance. My great aunt and uncle (their parents) had passed early on in their lives and my grandmother had filled the mothering role for them.
It was the early 90s, Roy and Nola were in their 30s, had developmental delays, cerebral palsy, worked in the old sheltered workshops for people with disabilities and lived at home with their younger sister Mary. Mary was their primary caregiver but Mary was a single mom to three children of her own. She worked dead end retail jobs, depended on food stamps and lived in section 8 low income housing. I watched Mary through the years as she struggled to work multiple part time jobs and care for her children all while navigating the system for her two older siblings with special needs. Once a week, my grandmother would have Roy and Nola over to her house. This was truly the only respite or break my cousin, Mary ever received. She had put her whole life on hold – been passed up for promotions, dealt with her own failing health – all to provide the best possible love and care for her older siblings and children.
When Easterseals Colorado applied to participate in the Colorado Tax Checkoff Campaign as the Family Caregiver Support Fund, it was Mary I instantly thought of. I wish for her sake that respite was a discussion people were having in the 90s… that this fund existed then to offer real, life-changing supports to families like hers. Maybe Mary would have thrived instead of barely survived.
More than 843,000 family caregivers are, and will continue to be, the main provider of long-term services and supports to individuals living with chronic health care needs or disability in Colorado.
As a taxpayer you can make a voluntary contribution when filing your individual state income taxes to support the work of Easterseals Colorado on behalf of caregivers, like Mary, and individuals living with chronic health needs statewide.
To contribute, simply include the Voluntary Contributions Schedule with your income tax return and list the amount you want to donate on the Voluntary Contributions line of your income tax return. The Family Caregiver Support Fund is listed as #17.
Learn more by visiting our website at www.eastersealscolorado.org.