This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund campaign that runs through the holidays.
For families with special needs children, one local agency is helping provide options for care.
Sandy, a Colorado Springs mother whose 32-year-old son, Kris, needs full-time care, said the Resource Exchange in Colorado Springs has proved invaluable. Kris has Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. A case worker from the Resource Exchange helps Sandy plan for services Kris needs throughout the year and then assists with the billing process for those services - a time-consuming endeavor.
"For me, the billing is a huge part, because we have our hands full," Sandy said.
Kris, the oldest of three children, was born when Sandy was 21. Her husband died nearly 20 years ago.
She has struggled to cover the costs of the care and services that Kris needs. She does part-time work for the Resource Exchange as a contractor and works for another agency. She also provides most of the care Kris needs.
At night, Kris can't be alone - his Alzheimer's makes him prone to wandering and he doesn't have an awareness of danger.
The Resource Exchange is a community-centered nonprofit that manages, delivers and sometimes pays for services to support children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
On top of the services it provides, the Resource Exchange also serves as an advocate Sandy trusts when she's looking for care and service providers.
"When I need help, that's (the Resource Exchange) the first person I'm going to call."