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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Tami Czerwinski was first introduced to David’s Refuge in 2016, during a time of turmoil and chaos. Dealing with her daughter’s life threatening illness Tami was able to get away for a Single Mother’s weekend, and felt the love and support of this program. She felt in that moment that she would be able to share this same love and support to other single mothers in the future.
Tami had been a single mother for 14 years with no family support, and had to build her own circle of support for her little family of 3. Tami later met Brandon who loves her children unconditionally as his own. A few years later Brandon and Tami got married. They have a dog, 2 cats, a guinea pig, and about 15 fish. Some may say they have a zoo, but they are all part of the family and play different roles. Tami and her family enjoy being together and camping during the summer.
She is no stranger to the Intellectual Developmental Disability world. She has worked in this field since 2010, first as a 1:1 staff for a young man with Autism. She knew in that first month that this was the field that God had called her to be in and even changed her major in college to obtain an Associates in Human Services with a Certificate in Developmental Disabilities from GCC. Tami worked her way up in the field and has been a Care Coordinator/Intake Specialist since 2016. She has a love for each person and family that she comes in contact with and treats each person as if they were her own family. Tami loves to stay busy, be a part of her community, teaching her children about giving back and volunteering her time as she is able to.
We would like to show our deepest gratitude and appreciation for all of our former host volunteers for giving their time and love to support caregivers.
- Chris and Tom Doughty
- Terrance and Karen Giblin
- Dewey and Gloria Hakes
- Bob and Cheri Hawkins
- Kevin and Melissa Linck
- MIke and Helen Littlejohn
- Lori and Gerard McCrohan
- Tom and Judie Murphy
- Ben and Jamie Nodine
- Warren and Brenda Pfohl
- Dave and Karen Richardson
- Fred and Ellie Weir