The Swanson Family Brightens the Lives of Their Neighbors

Some families go the extra mile to support their communities and advocate for the needs of people with developmental disabilities! Person Centered Services is proud to offer Care Coordination to one such family in the Orchard Park area.

The Swansons have three children with autism, two of whom receive Care Coordination support from our company. Prior to COVID-19, Care Coordinators Ashley Reese and Julianna Penberthy helped connect the Swanson family to respite opportunities and transition the children to homeschooling.

The pandemic has made life more difficult for the Swansons, who for nearly three years have run Bountiful Loaves and Fishes Love Ministry. They founded the organization to help families who have children with developmental disabilities through everyday struggles. The ministry provides a free food distribution program, hosts inclusive meals and BBQs, and offers getaway retreats for parents.

Due to COVID-19, the ministry has not been able to host their regular events. Instead, they have creatively found new ways to reach out to families. They put together special “Faith, Hope, and Love” dinner bags. Inside each one is a handwritten card featuring inspiring words of encouragement. These bags are designed to be shelf-stable so they can be used at any time when families are stressed.

The ministry also creates special self-care bags for parents and caretakers. The bags feature different themes each month. For example, bags might have a “bubble bath” theme or reflect holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving. In December, the self-care bags will include an elf hat, wire lights, ornaments, and candy canes.

“A lot of people in the special needs community don’t feel like they have any value, but we want people to know they are great moms, dads, and caretakers,” says Jamie Swanson. “My motto is ‘you are seen, you are valued, and you are enough.'”

For Jamie, what matters most are the relationships she has forged with many families. “My struggle may not be someone else’s struggles,” she says. “I try to grow and learn what others need. Once you learn, you can better serve.”

Care Coordinator Ashley Reese is honored to support the family and provide helpful check-ins during the pandemic.

“What they are doing for the community is so important,” Ashley says. “The Swansons are wonderful parents and always make time for their kids, teaching them to grow. One of the children told me how happy it makes him to see how they help care for others.”

While Bountiful Loaves and Fishes was founded by Jamie and her husband, a handful of volunteers also help gather food and provide small monetary donations. These people take part in what Jamie calls a “ripple of love.”

“We want people to continue the ripple and keep it going,” says Jamie.

If you are interested in contributing to the Swanson family’s work, you can reach out to the Bountiful Loaves and Fishes Love Ministry Contributors Facebook group.