Devereux Pocono family receives award from Pennsylvania Lifesharing Coalition
“When you see the difference you’re making in another person’s life – and the difference they’re making in yours – it’s all worth it.”
McPherson has always loved taking care of others, a trait she learned at an early age while helping to care for her great aunt in her native country of Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2015, when her own children were becoming more independent, McPherson and her husband, Matthew Sinclair, decided to become life share providers with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pocono. Devereux Pocono’s life share program provides adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences the opportunity to live in a family setting while receiving services and support to help improve their quality of life and increase independence.
This fall, the couple received the Pennsylvania Lifesharing Coalition’s Northeast Region “2020 Excellence in Lifesharing Award” for their dedication and commitment to helping individuals in need.
“We are honored to receive this award. Being a life share provider has brought us so much joy,” McPherson said. “Each of the adults in our care has different interests, skills and talents – they learn from us and we learn from them. I always tell people, ‘One day I’m a teacher, the next day I’m a student.’ This experience has been extremely rewarding. I only wish we had become life share providers sooner.”
Devereux Pocono Executive Director Tina Skoda nominated the family for the award, noting, “Suzanne and Matthew go above and beyond in their role as caregivers, and we are privileged to have them on our team. The couple are enthusiastic and eager to make a difference, encouraging those in their care to do their best and helping them identify and overcome any challenges they may face.”
Helping adults thrive
Initially, McPherson and Sinclair served as substitute care providers, offering respite or short-term support to other life share families. In 2017, the couple opened their hearts and home to Oleg. Two years later, Sean joined the family.
McPherson and Sinclair teach the men daily living and social skills, and help them build relationships and integrate into the community by participating in day programs and weekly literacy classes; volunteering at a local church and food bank; or enrolling in extracurricular activities, such as karate.
“We have seen Oleg and Sean grow, develop and thrive in their time with this family,” Skoda shared. “Suzanne and Matthew always encourage the men to do their best, and motivate them to try new things. Whether Oleg is playing his guitar or exercising, or Sean is working on his computer, they always have huge smiles on their faces.”
Breathing new life into a home
McPherson says being a life share provider has had a positive impact on her life, and she encourages other families to help adults with disabilities learn new skills, achieve their goals, and lead more independent and fulfilling lives.
“We absolutely love taking care of these men,” McPherson said. “After our children went off to college, we wanted to keep our house a home. Whether I am teaching Oleg and Sean how to cook, or taking them to volunteer at the church, I’m reminded of when my own kids were young and we had so much going on. These men have brought new life into our home – it’s the best decision we could have ever made.”
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