US$5,265.00Donated So Far
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Ben has already overcome so many challenges! The fact that he is alive and thriving is a testament to grace as well as to his perseverance and that of the dedicated family and supportive friends who surround him. Now he faces a challenge that will need the support of his entire community!
In 1997 John and Peg adopted 3-y-o Ben from an orphanage in China. They soon found that the Strabismus (crossed eyes) they had known about prior to adoption was the least of his diagnoses. Soon, they were navigating one medical emergency and hospital stay after another in a sea of diagnoses. Ben, it turned out was so malnourished that he was near death. Several surgeries and hundreds of therapy hours later, Ben was on the road to recovery. The miracle of international adoption had literally saved his life!
But long-term, early childhood malnutrition and institutionalization resulted in significant developmental delay. Though he would never cognitively "catch up" to others in his age group, Ben became an active, healthy boy. Over the years, he ran track for Special Olympics, played soccer on an school adapted soccer league and played baseball with the Miracle League of the Triangle
Now 25, Ben uses assistive technology to communicate and is an incredibly affable, helpful and positive young man. He makes friends wherever he goes! But, Ben still functions much like a four–year-old. He will always need care.
Looking toward the future as they approach retirement, John and Peg realized that it would be best for Ben to peacefully transition from their home to a long-term group home sooner rather than later. They didn't want to wait for a family crisis to dictate that transition into whatever state-run group home would be available at that moment. Having toured some group homes, John and Peg knew they didn’t want to leave it to chance where Ben would end up!
For many years, hoping that Ben would one day be able to live there, the family has volunteered at a Peacehaven Community Farm. Peacehaven offers quality supported living and programming for special needs adults and also provides vegetables for local restaurants and produces a variety of hand-crafted products. Ben, loves it here. He enjoys doing farm work and the company of the other residents and staff. Peacehaven has become his happy place. It really is a perfect home for him. Most of all, this is the place Ben wants to live!
AND, Ben was recently offered a place at this remarkable farm! Here, he will be provided with not only a room and a place to hang his hat, but the structure and care he needs, as well as a sense of belonging and life purpose. He is eager to accept this placement and excited to move on to this new phase of his life. Good news, right?
Yes, but 24 hour, quality care is expensive. For Ben to live here, we will need over a thousand dollars a month beyond the resources he and his family can provide. For over ten years, Ben has been on a waiting list for a program that provides federal housing support for special needs adults but it is estimated that he is still 3-5 years away from receiving this funding. By then, this perfect placement will likely not have another opening.
So, John and Peg made a commitment to Ben to allow him to stay there for one year but he needs at least $16,000 more each year until federal funding is made available to him! It’s an amount that sounds impossible to them, so, at first they planned to say, “No” to the offer of placement.
But then they thought, Ben’s entire life has been one miracle after another so, John and Peg decided to ask and perhaps, together, all of Ben’s friends can make one more miracle happen for Ben!
Please support Ben's dream at whatever level you are comfortable. You can choose a one-time donation or monthly contributions.
Even if you are not able to contribute financially, please advocate for Ben by sharing his story!
We are grateful for all the people who love Ben;
to those who have been cheering for him
since those very first, very scary, early days
and to those who have become his friends along the way.
Thank you all for your loving support of this very special young man!
- John Helminski
- Campaign Coowner
Merry Christmas 2020 and Happy New Year 2021!Update posted by Peg Helminski at 05:47 pm
As we consider Ben's move to Peacehaven over the past year and a half, our thoughts often turn to all of you who made this transition possible. You have seen us through the pinch! Although Ben is still on the waiting list for housing assistance, we have also been able. . . . .
Ben's one year anniversary at Peacehaven!Update posted by Peg Helminski at 02:09 pm
Hello team Ben!I can't believe we have just passed Ben's one year Peacehaven anniversary! There was a bit of a hiccup at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic where core members came back to family homes while staff scrambled to find best practices for running a shared living space in. . . . .
Six months!Update posted by Peg Helminski at 04:34 pm
We can hardly believe it has nearly been six months since Ben moved to Peacehaven! He continues to love it there though he does get homesick from time to time. And, although he enjoys visits with family, is always eager to return "home" to Peacehaven! By all accounts, he is. . . . .
Ben’s Winter HolidaysUpdate posted by Peg Helminski at 03:09 pm
Before too much time slips away we want to give you all an update on Ben.He came home for two weeks over Christmas/New Year’s break. He was very excited to come home calling every day for weeks beforehand to give us a countdown of the days remaining until his homecoming.. . . . .
Ben considers Peacehaven "Home!"Update posted by Peg Helminski at 06:26 pm
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Ben prevailed upon his elder brother to bring his bike (adult tricycle) to Peacehaven. Although it is the one earthly thing Ben truly loves, we had not been able to get it there in our cars. We piled Ben, his brother, sister-in-law, mom and dad. . . . .
Your comments mean so much!Update posted by Peg Helminski at 02:28 pm
I've been reading through the comments from all of Ben's friends who have donated to his Peacehaven fund so far and I am moved to tears! The level of love and care you have expressed deeply touches me. One donor said, "It really does take a village!" This is especially
Wow!Update posted by Peg Helminski at 08:35 pm
I wanted to let you all know that we have received several offline contributions. Together, these fill the funding gap for Ben to live at Peacehaven for another month! We now have nearly 3 months paid for. Thank you all SOOO much!
Ben moved to Peacehaven!Update posted by Peg Helminski at 04:06 pm
Like most young adults living on their own for the first time, Ben has been navigating that tricky balance between more freedom and greater responsibility. It is a heady time in a young man's life! He's had a few missteps but with tag-team efforts between house staff and his parents,. . . . .
Update on Ben's fundraiser: day 1Update posted by Peg Helminski at 02:39 pm
Wow! You gave over $500 to help Ben in the first day! Thank you SO much!