Like most birthday parties, Wesley’s 30th birthday party featured colorful balloons, delicious cake, and laughs shared with friends and family. However, Wesley’s party was unique; instead of one family, Wesley had two families celebrating his big day. Through Lutheran Services of Georgia’s FACES (Facilitating Advocacy, Care, Education, and Shelter) program, Wesley has found a second family to provide him with the daily love, care, and support he needs to thrive.
Born in north Georgia in the 1980s, Wesley lived there with his mother for many years. Wesley’s mother loved her son deeply, but her own medical challenges prevented her from fully caring for Wesley, who was born with a developmental disability. She began searching for a place where Wesley would live a safe, happy life with a family to care for him.
In 2005, Wesley entered FACES, an LSG program that provides supportive home environments for individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. He moved in with LSG Support Companion Juana Medina, her husband, and their three children. Earlier that year, a previous Support Companion and friend of Juana’s showed her a newspaper advertisement about FACES. As she learned more about the program, Juana knew she wanted to open her home. “I really love and have a big heart for people with special needs and those who can’t take care of themselves,” she said.
Nine years later, Wesley’s relationship with the Medinas goes deeper than that of a patient and his caregivers. Wesley now treats the Medinas as his second family. Stephanie Furness, his FACES case manager with LSG’s Athens office, noted that, “Wesley has really bonded with the Medinas. He is very loving and affectionate with Juana.”
The Medinas have also grown close to Wesley and see him as a member of their family. Juana reflected, “I am happy to see that a program like FACES exists and can provide a home for people like Wesley. I am thankful to LSG for trusting me to take care of Wesley because otherwise I wouldn’t have gained a new son. Throughout the time Wesley has lived with us, we’ve grown to love and appreciate him. Because of Wesley, I have a bigger heart and compassion for people with special needs.”
Since moving in with the Medinas, Wesley has made significant progress on his personal wellness goals. According to Juana, “When Wesley first came to our house, he was unable to walk. He was very pale and did not smile for almost two months. At three months, he started walking 10 to 15 steps a day. He laughs now and runs and even plays tag with my husband and children.” Wesley has truly found a place where he can thrive.
LSG wishes Wesley a very happy 30th birthday and thanks the Medinas for all their support over the years.