Paul and Quincy Buckles stopped by the Missoula office one day looking to learn more about AWARE Inc.’s services. They were interested in getting more help for their son, Isaac, who was diagnosed with autism.
After a short conversation about AWARE’s services, Jake Henderson, service administrator in Missoula, was able to put the Buckles at ease.
They immediately made an appointment to further their relationship with AWARE. Now they receive home support services.
Jake assigned the Buckles to Barbara Porter, child and family specialist in Missoula.
Jake said Barbara is typically assigned cases like the Buckles’ due to her strength in working with children with autism.
“I told Barb to find out what the family needs and make it happen,” Jake said.
During the first few meetings, Barbara and other AWARE staff worked with the Buckles to create a wraparound plan.
AWARE’s wraparound philosophy is a process that works to emphasize strengths while setting goals to fulfill each family’s desired outcomes.
Wraparound plans are different for every family.
Barbara said home support services includes a phone call or face-to-face meeting with the family once a week. AWARE staff also visits families’ homes. Some families might need assistance at the grocery store or with relationships at school.
“It just depends,” she said.
In the Buckles’ case, they just wanted to go to church together as a family. So Barbara and AWARE staff stepped in to help fulfill their wish.
In the spirit of AWARE’s wraparound philosophy, Barbara worked closely with the church and AWARE team members.
She contacted the pastor at the Zootown Church in Missoula, several times.
“I had many games of phone tag with him,” Barbara said. “He got to see my obnoxious, persistent side. I like to think of it as one of my positive traits.”
She wanted to be sure the pastor knew about the Buckles desire to attend church and be comfortable while there. She was able to assist the Buckles in educating the pastor about their son’s autism.
Once on board, Rose Wakkinen and Matt Windham (as backup), behavioral support coordinators, were assigned to accompany the Buckles to church on Sundays.
Jake said Rose or Matt sit with Isaac during church to make sure his needs are met. They help reinforce a foundation for proper public behavior.
Overseeing the outcome for the Buckles, AWARE Lead Clinician Cindy Schaumberg, MSW, LCSW, PhD, said the care provided by the team embodies a true wraparound plan.
“Not only did we help the Buckles clinically, we were able to bring in the entire community,” she said. “It was a nice team approach to everything.”
With persistence and dedication, AWARE staff helped the Buckles fulfill their desire to go to church as a family and bring an increased understanding and compassion for people with autism to the pastor and congregation.
“I felt like I was just doing my job and giving them support as needed,” Barbara said. “I didn’t think I was going above and beyond. I was just giving the service that all our families deserve.”
The Zootown Church responded to the their new found knowledge and tremendous assistance by making a donation to AWARE.
During service on Christmas Eve, the congregation showed their support by collecting $5,132.30 to help AWARE serve families facing challenges like the Buckles.
“The donation came from a church of working class people,” Jake said. “We were told one person even donated the last 30 cents they had in their pocket.”
According to the Buckles, who dropped the donation off at the AWARE office in Missoula Jan. 29, 2015, Pastor Scott Klaudt said the donation gave the church community an opportunity to be true Christians.
AWARE plans to use the Zootown Church’s donation to serve families in Missoula.
For more information about donations, please contact Richard Saravalli at 406.443.3120 or email@example.com.
The Zootown Church is located in Missoula at 3623 Brooks Street, with services Sundays 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Thursdays, the church gathers at Zootown Brew, 121 W. Broadway, 7 p.m. Find live services at zootownchurch.com. Zootown Church helps people form a relationship with Jesus Christ while creating a relational environment where friendships are formed and people become disciples for Christ. Courtesy photo.