Like any parent of a special needs child, Mike Byrne often worries about the future.
His daughter Kelsey, 28, was born with a developmental disorder called Williams syndrome. Although she is small in stature, her endearing personality can captivate any room she walks into; but her condition also comes with several learning challenges, especially in the form of numbers, perception issues and following directions.
For that reason, Kelsey has always lived with her parents—and until recently, the family had no reason to think that would ever change.
“The prayer of a special needs parent is that our children live a long and happy life, but that we as parents live one day longer because we have to be there to take care of them,” Byrne says. “But we all know that most of us won’t live longer, so the question is, ‘What do we do?’ The JEVS program is a godsend to parents because this is what we think about all the time.”
That program is called Independence Network and it is run by JEVS Human Services, which is headquartered in Philadelphia and helps those with disabilities in a variety of ways. Byrne was instrumental in working with JEVS to bring Independence Network to South Jersey after seeing the success of its inaugural location in Narberth, Pennsylvania.