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December 25, 2013

KITCHELL: Carrying Christmas forward for all

When you’re an adult who can’t take care of yourself, there’s a place for you.

They call them group homes. They may not be the place of choice for some people, but they’re the choice for many, partly because there is no alternative.

Nine years ago today, I spent part of my Christmas Day working in a group home. It was a festive day for some residents, especially those who had gifts, Christmas sweaters, Christmas cards in their room and Christmas goodies in the kitchen.

Holidays for these people are different than they are for most people. Some leave for a few hours to go to church when a church bus picks them up. Some are fortunate to know volunteers who will take them somewhere for the day.

And many have no one.

They may have outlived their parents or been placed in a setting that is out of sight and out of mind for what family they have. They may want to contribute to season activities such as ringing a Salvation Army bell for a red kettle, but they’re not even asked.

That home I spent Christmas morning in wasn’t in Logansport, but there are several like it here right now. What’s more, there are dozens of adults in this community who are in group homes or living semi-independently in their own settings who have little or no support from family or friends. Some of them work and do their part to contribute to society.

It’s these people who are hurt when doors are closed to them. One of those doors is the mental health organization that parted ways with the United Way earlier this month. What that will mean for the organization that serves the disabled is uncertain. The same goes for the people who have benefited from that service, or people coming to our community who use it.

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