Meet Your Hosts

Our hosts understand first-hand the demands of caregiving, the loss of dreams and the need for respite and self-care. Your Host works in conjunction with the bed and breakfast or innkeeper to ensure that the mission of David’s Refuge is carried out. They will contact you before your stay to introduce themselves, be there to greet you when you arrive, and join you during breakfast time each morning.

Your Hosts

Rob and Dana Bisnett

Rob & Dana Bisnett

Rob and Dana Bisnett know firsthand the stress of lengthy hospital stays, juggling childcare, and managing a household. They are busy parents of three boys and a girl, two of which have special needs. Their middle son, Ben has aspergers, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. Their daughter Giana was born with Spina Bifida and 9 missing ribs, resulting in 17 surgeries so far. They first visited David’s Refuge for rest, rejuvenation and privacy as they have around-the-clock nursing in their home. They loved their time together at David’s Refuge including the opportunity to get to know other special needs parents. The awesome mission of David’s Refuge inspired them to get involved as hosts. Rob is a B2B Sales Consultant for Staples. He enjoys coaching his sons’ football and basketball teams and managing the hockey team. Dana has been a stay-at-home mom for 11 yrs and is nearing completion of her degree in Health Administration at Roberts Wesleyan College. Dana enjoys reading, cooking, and cheering at all of their children’s sporting events, including Giana’s special needs dance class where she is able to attend using her wheelchair. The Bisnett’s faith and marriage have both been strengthened through their challenging experiences, causing them to view their circumstances as a calling. Rob and Dana have been married 13 years.

The capuano family

Tom and Lara Capuano

Tom and Lara Capuano met as college kids and have been married for 14 years. In their wild adventure together, they have welcomed five incredible children into their lives. Their three daughters came to them biologically while their two sons came to them through adoption. Tom’s background is in online education and he currently works as an Instructional Designer for Monroe Community College. Lara is a writer and speaker and, admittedly, doesn’t really even know what an Instructional Designer is, but thinks it sounds very impressive. Tom and Lara are fun and playful, yet seriously passionate about their faith, their family, and loving people through hard times. For the past nine years, they have learned to juggle “regular” life with five kids in the midst of countless appointments with specialists for their youngest son’s hearing loss, damage to the brain, and developmental delays caused by ototoxicity (an overdose of antibiotics at birth) as well as intensive therapy for adoption trauma and Reactive Attachment Disorder with their older son. They have experienced the all-consuming effects of navigating life with children with special needs and this has given them a deep desire to support other families when a time of rest and refreshing is so desperately needed.

The Coleman Family

Stanley and Clarise Coleman

Stanley and Clarise Coleman were college sweethearts and God fearing, God loving parents of Chase, a wonderful teenager diagnosed with autism. Clarise is currently employed with Onondaga Community College while Stan is a 24-year employee of the Syracuse City School District as a Teacher Assistant. Advocating for special needs children and caregivers brings joy to them both as they each continuously learn how to best teach their own child to navigate the world. Clarise also supports the caregiver community as the director of a local nonprofit called Show Them How Smart You Are.

As a family, the majority of their spare time is spent doing what Chase loves most: watching lots of movies involving SpongeBob, Marvel characters, humor, and animals. Sporting events are also at the top of the list because Clarise is a sports fanatic. The Colemans enjoy travelling throughout the year, visiting family and new cities all over the country. Clarise enjoys bible-based and documentary readings, dramatic movies, and being the team mom for Chase’s cross-country track team. Stan is an artist who prefers quiet, creative time to work on art via various mediums. They have been married for 10 years.

The Coyne Family

Joe Sullivan and Ann Coyne

Joe Sullivan and Ann Coyne have been married for 13 years and between them they have 4 children.
There are three girls, all married and living on their own. Joe’s son, Matthew, has Angelman’s
Syndrome. Matt lives nearby in a group home, making it easy to visit often and bring him home on Sundays. Serving as Hosts for David’s Refuge has been very rewarding to Ann and Joe. They enjoy connecting with families, hearing their stories, and sharing in the struggles and triumphs of caregiving.

The Cuthbert Family are hosts with David's Refuge

Ian and Kristen Cuthbert 

Ian and Kristen Cuthbert were both born and raised in Syracuse, NY. They have been married for almost 9 years and have three children: Crew, Chloe and Tripp. The Cuthberts live in Syracuse where Ian has worked with emotionally disturbed and special education programs in the Syracuse City School District for over 17 years. Ian’s passion for people and children with special needs gives him unique insight into the triumphs and struggles that so many families endure on a daily basis.

When Ian and Kristen were preparing to have their second child, Chloe, they learned that she had hydrops during the 33rd week of Kristen’s pregnancy. While Chloe is truly thriving these days, it has been a long road to ensure her health and stability.

In 2017, Kristen stepped down from running her family’s business to join the staff at Eastern Hills Bible Church where she learned more about David’s Refuge. Kristen and Ian’s experience with Chloe, coupled with Ian’s experience in the SCSD, has primed their hearts to serve with David’s Refuge. They feel strongly about facilitating respite for couples who need some time away to recharge their batteries and ensure their marriages thrive.

The DiCosmino Family

Chuck and Gerry DiCosimo

Chuck and Gerry DiCosimo have been married for 43 years. Their first child, Christine, was born with Prader –Willi Syndrome, a complex multi-system disorder which presented a lifelong series of challenges for her and her family. Chuck is an Oral Surgeon practicing in Manlius, New York. He has dedicated much time and effort to benefit people with special needs in his office as well as the community. Gerry is a Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist who has critical expertise in developing specialized programs for people with special needs. Through her love and dedication, Gerry was able to arrange for and be directly involved in Christine’s education which resulted in Christine becoming certified as a Nursing Assistant in New York State. Chuck and Gerry have established a private residence for Christine in Manlius, New York through many years of hard work. The DiCosimos have learned through years of experience the importance of offering support to others. They are honored to be a part of the David’s Refuge team and enjoy sharing their compassion and knowledge with other families.

The Doughty Family

Chris and Tom Doughty

Chris and Tom Doughty For 32 years of their 37 year marriage Chris and Tom have been caring for their son Scott at their home in Chili, New York (a suburb of Rochester). The challenge of striving to provide a ‘normal’ life for their three children when one requires special care is one that Chris and Tom have faced for years. Chris had been raised in a large family where their ‘normal’ was not the world’s ‘normal’. Much of the caregiving for two of her siblings with special needs fell on her shoulders.
In the fall of 2015 Chris and Tom opened a non-certified group home staffed 24/7 in their neighborhood for Scott and two housemates with similar care needs. They are continuing to be both challenged and blessed by this adventure.

In the years of caring for their son in their home, the opportunity for their own caregiving respite was rare. They felt blessed whenever an opportunity came along for a little respite. Never, never did any opportunity come along like that of David’s Refuge. Chris and Tom feel God has truly blessed their lives and their marriage with the opportunity to be involved in this ministry.

The Downs Family are hosts with David's Refuge

John and Randi Downs

John and Randi Downs are so humbled and blessed to be a part of the incredible host team for David’s Refuge. They are the proud parents of three young men, Jared, Jake and Braydon. Their oldest son, Jared, has Down Syndrome and recently moved away to live with some friends near Cooperstown, NY. This seemed like the perfect time for Randi and John to become hosts – to share Jared’s incredible story of independence while offering a glimpse into a marriage filled with love and laughter. They hope that their story will inspire and support our couples while letting them know that they are not alone in their journey.

Randi is a teacher trainer and instructional coach and John is a middle school teacher. They absolutely love spending time with their busy sons, family, and friends. John and Randi also enjoy music, travel and good food. John recently noted that one of the coolest things about their marriage is that they laugh every day. They realize that they are pretty lucky to have each other and never take any moment for granted.

The Giblin Family

Terrence and Karen Giblin

Terrence and Karen Giblin were high school sweethearts and have been married 42 years. They raised their two children in Rochester, NY before moving back to Syracuse to help aging parents. The caregiving needs increased, and Karen’s mother moved into the Giblin’s home the last two years of her life. Terry and Karen have empathy for those caring for a family member at home. They both grew up in homes with live-in grandparents who needed assistance with daily living. Karen started her career as an LPN focusing on geriatrics. After being a stay at home mom, she worked in various office positions and retired from Maple Downs, a retirement community. Terry designs and sells hydraulic systems. In his free time, he is building a hovercraft.

Family is very important to Terry and Karen and they enjoy spending time with their children and three grandchildren. The Giblins were drawn to become involved with David’s Refuge through Eastern Hills Bible Church and are looking forward to facilitating respite weekends for those who seldom have a chance to take care of themselves.

Dewey and Gloria Hakes

Dewey and Gloria Hakes have encountered and enjoyed people from all walks of life throughout their 50 years of marriage. Gloria has been teacher, test kitchen dietitian, seamstress, stay at home mom, and farm wife. Dewey has been an engineer, Illinois grain farmer, contractor, dairy farmer, and financial consultant for farm families. Having lost their 29 year old son to leukemia, the Hakes know the pain of loss. They as well can relate to the rewarding yet exhausting role of a caregiver, having been the primary caregivers to both sets of parents and Gloria’s aunt.When they are not busy caregiving or enjoying their 14 grandchildren, they love traveling, motorcycle and convertible riding, and hunting. Both are lifelong churchgoers and serve wherever needed.

Julie Gridley

Julie Gridley

Julie Gridley is a single mom of a child with special needs. She was the first single parent served by David’s Refuge during their very first year and has been an active participant in the David’s Refuge Community, always feeling that someday she would give back in some way. 

Julie is a firm believer that God allows us to experience both the joys and challenges of life to equip us to understand and help others. She has been the Intake Coordinator at a facility where she supports families in the process of obtaining a developmental diagnosis for their child for many years. She is a semi-retired birth and post-partum doula, having served many families and participated in over 200 births.

Julie was married for many years, and experienced the heartbreaking passing of the love of her life.  She believes her special needs child not only saved her life, but revealed her greatest gifts and purpose.  Julie loves people, loves to hear people’s stories, and loves to support others.  She is very excited to be a part of the mission of David’s Refuge, showing others the love she has been shown and reminding individuals that self-care is a critical, non-optional part of being an exceptional parent!

The Dwyer Family

Brian and Doni Dwyer

Brian and Doni Dwyer met while studying at Roberts Wesleyan College. They have been married for 15 years and are the parents of two beautiful daughters, Brooklyn and Isabella. The Dwyers understand the mental and physical challenges parents experience while caring for and raising a child with a life long illness. The couple first started their journey at David’s Refuge as guests over 5 years ago, and they have developed a deep understanding and appreciation for what the respite weekend provides.

Their oldest daughter, Brooklyn, has a very rare autoimmune/genetic disorder. Her body is fighting itself and destroying several endocrine glands, and she is one of about 250 children in the United States with this diagnosis. Isabella loves playing outside, especially with her sister. Brian is a science teacher and the head JV football coach at a local school district. After teaching Head Start for 14 years, Doni recently resigned to take care of their children. In addition to serving as hosts for David’s Refuge, Brian and Doni are co-chairs for the Syracuse area Fresh Air Fund.

The Fields Family

Jeff and Janelle Fields

Jeff and Janelle Fields experienced the pain of watching a child suffer through traumatic illness when their 6 year old daughter Anna spent 3 months in the hospital due to a rare flu virus that attacked her heart. Throughout Anna’s illness, which included multiple surgeries and two years of rehab, the Fields’ were supported by a caring community of friends and family who prayed for Anna and shared their love in many ways. In joining the David’s Refuge caregiver community, Jeff and Janelle hope to offer that same concern to other parents who may be struggling with a child’s illness. Janelle also has a sister with disability, whom she has recently moved to New York from her home state of Minnesota. Married since 1979, the Fields have three grown children and one grandson. Janelle is a gardener and cook. Jeff enjoys outdoor pursuits, including hunting, fishing and hiking.

The Hallock Family

Sasha and Sarah Hallock

Sasha and Sarah Hallock first visited David’s Refuge as guests and were amazed at the care they experienced. It was during the hardest year of their lives as they struggled to care for their son Judah who had recently been diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, called CDG. Learning to manage therapies and doctors appointments, surgeries and lack of sleep, David’s Refuge was a refreshing time for them to connect as husband and wife and reflect. They now have a second son Oliver and are adjusting to being parents of two boys. Although married only five years, Sasha and Sarah are incredible listeners with an amazing ability to connect with others. They are a huge asset to our team. Sasha is an artist who enjoys oil painting, running, drinking coffee and listening to classical music. Sarah is also an artist who enjoys interior, furniture and fashion design as well as cooking new recipes. They planted a garden for the first time last summer and hope to have a small one again this year. They live in Rochester and work as chaplains at the University of Rochester.

The Hamlin family

Eric and Daidra Hamlin

Eric and Daidra Hamlin came to David’s Refuge first as parents of a special needs child in need of respite. After receiving plenty of encouragement and care from their own stay, the couple wanted to “pay it forward” and help David’s Refuge restore and refresh as many caretakers as possible. Eric has been in pastoral ministry for the past 14 years. He has been involved in youth ministry throughout New York State and currently serves as lead pastor of Living Hope AG in Waterloo. He enjoys reading, hiking, playing with his twin boys and eating his wife’s Italian cooking. Daidra loves cooking, hosting events in her home and anything that has to do with her kids. She and Eric have been married for over 13 years. Daidra received a degree from Bryant & Stratton College in Business Management and has put it to good use helping lead offices, churches, coffeehouses and her own home.

The Hawkins family

Bob & Cheri Hawkins

Bob & Cheri Hawkins first experienced David’s Refuge as guests and were amazed by the encouragement and support they received. They have been married for 20 years and have adopted three of their six beautiful children, four of whom have special needs. The Hawkins know firsthand the joys and struggles that come with raising children with special needs. Juggling multiple doctor, therapies, 504, and IEP appointments can be exhausting. Being a part of the David’s Refuge community has been invaluable. Bob and Cheri look forward to making connections and long-lasting friendships as part of this ministry.

The Healy Family

Steve and Gail Healy

Steve and Gail Healy feel privileged to be a part of David’s Refuge. They both work in the human service fields; Steve as a program Specialist for individuals who have sustained a TBI and Gail as a Music Therapist – private practice. Their careers have allowed them to experience the struggles and joys of families who care for a child with special needs. Having been David’s Music Therapist, Gail has a special connection to the vision of David’s Refuge. When not at work, you may find Steve with his guitar or in his art studio, and Gail in the garden, cooking “healthy” food, or making her own music. They have been married for 28 years and have two grown children.

The King Family are hosts with David's Refuge

Sean & Andrea King

Sean & Andrea King have 4 children – Adrean is 16, Gabriel is 8, and Louis & Cristiana are 6-year-old twins. The Kings became guests at David’s Refuge three years ago after another couple told them about the organization. Sean and Andie were automatically drawn to the warmth, compassion, and selflessness of the David’s Refuge mission. As a family of 6, the Kings don’t get much time alone as a couple. Andrea shared that David’s Refuge fixed something in their marriage that they didn’t even realize needed repairing. When asked to host, they jumped at the chance to help bless other couples and families with the same amazing gifts they have been given: hope, understanding, and most importantly, compassion.

The Littlejohn Family

Mike and Helen Littlejohn

Mike and Helen Littlejohn offer a wealth of life experience caring for children and adults with various special needs. After giving birth to four healthy children, they felt called to expand their family through adoption. Over the next nine years they brought into their family eight more children, all with needs ranging from mild mental health issues to severe developmental disabilities.

With all of their children now adults, they have been dealing with the challenges of transitioning them from home to living in the community. Mike and Helen are a capable resource for those on all spectrums of their journey as they have first hand experience in advocating for the needs of their children for many decades.Helen works as a Service Coordinator and in her spare time enjoys painting, reading and playing scrabble. Mike works as a Foreman for a local fencing company. As a hobby he designs, builds and races kayaks.

Helen and Mike have been married 32 years. In addition to their 12 children, they have 13 grandchildren, two cats and two dogs. They live in King Ferry, NY with their son Isaac who requires around the clock care. They are happy to share their compassion, knowledge and experience with other parents who are in the midst of caring for their loved ones.

Steve and Laurie Mitchell

Steve and Laurie Mitchell

Steve and Laurie Mitchell became involved with David’s Refuge through Eastern Hill’s Bible Church. Both have special needs siblings so they understand the value of a ministry that provides support to the families served through David’s Refuge. Steve is a Partner in BME – Business Machines and Equipment and Laurie is a retired from Madison-Oneida BOCES as a Special Education Teacher. Steve and Laurie have been married for 28 years and have two grown children and a daughter-in-law. They enjoy outdoor actives such as going to the beach and Black Lake. They have served in several ministries and have seen amazing things get accomplished through God’s love and grace and look forward to serving and being part of God’s continued blessing through David’s Refuge.

The Morgan family are hosts with David's Refuge

Ned and Shelly Morgan

Ned and Shelly Morgan were guests at David’s Refuge in 2017 and quickly concluded that this was a mission that they were called to serve with!  Ned and Shelley have been married for 28 years, have 6 children ranging between college to elementary school, each being adopted, two with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Their youngest son has Down’s Syndrome.  Ned is a fruit grower/farmer, and Shelley is a stay at home whose passion and education is in social work and adoption. Interests and hobbies for Ned include anything hunting related. For Shelley it is flower gardening or volunteer efforts at the children’s schools, their church, and in the adoption/special needs community.

Warren Pfohl and wife

Warren and Brenda Pfohl

Warren and Brenda Pfohl understand firsthand the need for respite and self care, as they cared for their son David during his 13 year battle with Batten Disease. Before starting David’s Refuge, Warren served 15 years as a pastor at Eastern Hills Bible Church with his primary focus on Caring Ministries. Prior to being in ministry Warren worked as a Recreational Therapist in a psychiatric hospital. He enjoys roasting coffee, cooking, reading, playing with his grandson, and has a refreshing sense of humor. Brenda has been Warren’s wife, partner, and best friend for over 30 years. She loves gardening, decorating, painting, and exploring various arts. Brenda graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Kansas and prior to children worked for several years as an OT in home care.

“So often, parents have a need to share their story with someone who has walked down a similar path in life. Our desire is to have a trained host, who has walked a similar journey, readily and unobtrusively available to every guest that stays at David’s Refuge.

As you leave, it is our prayer that you would be refreshed and ready to head back to the task of caring for and loving your children.”

Warren and Brenda Pfohl

The Murphy Family

Tom and Judie Murphy

Tom and Judie Murphy have been married 15 years and are the proud parents of three beautiful children, the youngest of whom has special needs. First experiencing David’s Refuge as a couple in need of respite, Judie and Tom now hope to give back to other couples who may share a similar journey. Judie is a former teacher and financial advisor who is now a full-time student and mom, soon to become a licensed school psychologist. Their youngest child’s disabilities sparked Judie’s interest in returning to school to better serve him and other children with unique needs. Her loves include music and anything sports. Tom is an assistant principal at a youth detention center, a former college football coach, and current basketball coach. When not at work or coaching, you’ll find Tom on the golf course. The true joys of their lives however are their three children Adrianna (13), Kaedyn (11) and Thomas (9) who keep them busy with all sorts of activities.

The Namy family

Jeff and Bitsy Namy

Jeff and Bitsy Namy have experienced many hardships throughout their 36 years of marriage. After rearing four children, they understand the pain and suffering of disability, disease and death. But in the midst of life’s storms, the Namys have experienced many victories and blessings.

Their oldest daughter is a cancer survivor while sadly their son, Joel, passed away from cancer at age 21. The couple lived through years of doctor reports, needles, sleeping on hospital floors, neutropenia, low microbial diets, flushing and dressing Hickmans, waiting for test results, and sleepless nights tending to the needs of a very sick child. The Namys would say that the blessing was knowing that God loves us all and He carries us through life. God doesn’t make mistakes.
Today Jeff and Bitsy are loving life with their three remaining grown children and enjoy the blessing of God’s promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Nodine Family

Ben and Jamie Nodine

Ben and Jamie Nodine know firsthand both the joys and the challenges of living day to day life as parents of a child with special needs. Their oldest son, Joshua, was diagnosed early on with spastic, quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Their youngest son, Caleb, is typically developing. Both of their boys are equally amazing, but after several years with no breaks, Ben & Jamie discovered David’s Refuge and realized the absolute necessity of making time for themselves to invest in their marriage. They are looking forward to encouraging other couples who are walking a similar path.

Jamie is a full-time wife and the mother. She volunteers as the chair of her local Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) and has recently begun working part-time as a Family Support Specialist with The Family Autism Center in Rochester. Ben spends his days working as a preconstruction manager with a national real estate investment trust. For the last several years, he has volunteered in the kid’s ministry at their local church and served as president of a local professional society. When he has some free time, Ben has been working toward his goal to hike all of the trails in Monroe County with his sons. Jamie and Ben have been married for 13 years.

The Paredes Family

Tony and Sara Paredes

Tony and Sara Paredes found David’s Refuge at just the right time in their lives. On his 5th birthday, their son Ethan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. After months of chemotherapy and hospital stays, the Paredes’ were running on empty. That’s when they were introduced to Warren and Brenda Pfohl and the services at David’s Refuge. After their initial respite weekend, they set a goal as a couple to one day serve as hosts to nurture others caregivers facing similar situations. Tony and Sara have been pastors since 2004. In 2012 they moved to upstate New York and currently serve as Senior Pastors of South Bay Chapel in Canastota, NY. They have been married for 15 years and are the parents of 2 beautiful children. Tony loves reading, listening to music, and being a dad. Sara loves photography, baking, and being a mom.

The Redmond family are hosts with David's Refuge

Joe & Jenny Redmond

Joe & Jenny Redmond have been married 8 years and are currently raising 3 teenage boys. David’s Refuge has been such a blessing to them in reminding them that they are not alone that they wanted to become hosts. They know firsthand the long exhausting road of navigating emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations and services as their middle son has both mental health issues and autism. For fun, the Redmonds love to travel, ride their bikes and camp. Joe loves to cook, play piano and works in a Youth Detention Center. Jenny enjoys crafting and paddle boarding, but her real passion is working with kids and adults on a Mobile Crisis Team.

The Richardson Family

Dave and Karen Richardson

Dave and Karen Richardson have been a part of encouraging families of children with special needs throughout the past 20 years. Their experience teaching a class for persons with diverse abilities and disabilities grew into a deep passion to care for and support families caring for children with special needs. Their recent experience caring for Karen’s mother at home as she descended through Alzheimer’s has increased their understanding of the stresses of full-time caregiving. Karen is an avid encourager, through notes, gifts, prayer, and friendship. She has a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Dave is a retired economics professor and Washington policy wonk who enjoys bowling, camping, riding (bicycles and horses), singing (tenor), and giving historical tours of areas he knows well.Dave and Karen have been married since 1967 and love their Chicagoland and CNY daughters as well as their collie, Hope.

The Russo family

Andy and Lori Russo

Andy and Lori Russo have been married for 43 years. They are the parents of three adult children, a son and two daughters. Lori and Andy have five grandchildren ranging in age from 8 to 20 years old, and their youngest grandchild Mila has Down Syndrome. The Russo’s greatest joy is living close enough to be involved in all of their grandchildren lives as they grow up.

Andy is a former small business owner who is semi-retired and very happy to have a reduced schedule. Lori dedicated her life to caring for her family, including her mom, who lived to the age of 92. Andy and Lori have been involved in many different ministries through the years both at their church and in the community. They have been friends to Warren and Brenda throughout their journey in ministry and are excited to serve as hosts for David’s Refuge!

Erica Searles is a host for families at David's Refuge

Erica Searles

Erica Searles felt her first pull to David’s Refuge when she catered a small fundraiser at the founder’s home 6 years ago. Not having a special needs child of her own she was unsure of how she could serve in an ongoing capacity but kept her heart open to, and prayer focused on, the possibility.

After being a foster mother to a child with autism, she now has experience with some aspects of having a special needs child; fighting for diagnosis, juggling therapies, and having a house on complete lock down 24 hours a day became her focus while this beloved child was with her family.

Erica’s college major was Special Ed with a minor in Speech Therapy. She home schooled her 6 children ranging now from college grads down to an 8-year-old. In the past three years, Erica has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, suffered heart failure, and had an adrenal tumor. These events have given her compassion, empathy, and a deep understanding of what it means to battle the medical establishment as many of our DR parents must do on a regular basis on behalf of their children.

Erica will be serving as our single parent’s host. While she is not single herself, during her 8 years as a foster parent she has gained experience loving on the single moms of her foster children. She has forged bonds with several of them and she and her family offer respite to these moms by taking their reunited fosters back into their home as often as possible. The grave need for respite for both the parents of special needs children and for single mothers became clear to her when she was isolated from friends and family while caring for her special needs foster son. Watching the struggle of a single mother fighting for reunification with her special needs child solidified in her the desire to Care for the Caregiver.
Her passions are to cook, garden, raise little people into big people, and entertain both in her home and in her family’s catering business. Erica feels wildly blessed that the initial connection she felt to David’s Refuge has turned into a opportunity to serve this community and ‘counts it all joy’ (James 1:2-3) the preparation the Lord worked in her to bring this to fruition.

The Talbot family

Hal and Careen Talbot

Hal and Careen Talbot know the pain and exhaustion caregivers experience, as they cared for their daughter Tracey and her young son for over ten years. Tracey suffered many serious complications from Juvenile Diabetes, which required total care. She passed away in 2007. Hal and Careen recently celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary. They are both retired educators. Careen retired from the East Syracuse Minoa district where she was a Pre-Kindergarten teacher. Hal taught Biology in the New Hartford school district and then served as High School Principal at Chittenango for 20 years. The Talbots live in Fayetteville. They love to collect country antiques and before their caregiving years, were antique dealers. They look forward to meeting families who are experiencing the life of caregiving and are really enthused to become part of David’s Refuge.

The weir family

Fred and Ellie Weir

Fred and Ellie Weir are filled with a wealth of wisdom and insight. They have been happily married for over 50 years and have been actively involved with helping people throughout their lives. During Fred’s years as a school administrator he began one of the first integrated programs for special needs children. Over the years they have been involved in pre-marital mentoring, teaching literacy classes, and working with advocacy groups. Fred and Ellie have also been guardians of a special needs adult for over forty years. Although they never had a child with a disability, Fred and Ellie understand the pain and loss of losing a child. Since losing their adult son suddenly to a heart attack, they have walked side by side with others through the grief process. Both Fred and Ellie like to travel and are enjoying grandparenthood. In the south during the winter they sing in a large choir. Fred loves gardening and baking, especially breads. Ellie is an avid reader and loves to mentor younger women.