Meet the Benders!
Jean and Paul Bender were first introduced to The Arc Minnesota over 30 years ago when they joined a family support group after their son, David, was born. Since then, the family has been involved in almost every aspect of The Arc from hosting and facilitating support groups, volunteering, getting involved in advocacy and public policy, sitting on the Board of The Arc Minnesota, and using programs and services.
When David was a teenager, the Benders used planning services at The Arc. Using a person-centered program was important to them and they felt that the planning services they used at The Arc were crucial to David’s life as an adult.
“The process was about what do we, as the people who know David best, think he wants for his own future,” said Jean.
With The Arc, the family was able to figure out what they wanted and how they could make it happen. They were able to talk and agreed that the things we all value so highly needed to come first.
“We have a focus on personal health and keeping David in his own home without going to a day program or moving somewhere else,” said Jean.
Since meeting with The Arc’s planning team, The Benders have bought a duplex, so David could feel comfortable and safe in his home even if his caregivers change throughout the years. They also never had David participate in a traditional day program; David was able to do what he wanted and stay active with his friends in the community. Planning services at The Arc also helped the Benders find a personal trainer who has been able help keep David active, strong, and healthy.
Before COVID-19, David spent a lot of his time with music, fitness, and art classes. He also spent time with his friends through community clubs and volunteering. With his friends, David loved to volunteer with Feed my Starving Children.
The Benders said lifetime planning meant knowing you are not alone. Their advice to families looking to use planning services is to know that they are not a one and done situation. Things are always changing and there is always more to advocate for or need for creative solutions. There are always going to be questions from people and families and The Arc is here to help.
“I love the growth The Arc has made to serve everybody,” said Jean.
Over the years, the Benders have noticed that there is a way for everyone to feel connected and supported at The Arc. Whether it is through advocacy efforts, programs like Adelantes that connects more of the community to The Arc, or virtual webinars, town halls and events, there is a place for everyone at The Arc.
To families looking for connection and support with The Arc, the Benders offer this advice:
“Peruse the website, read a newsletter, there is something for everyone. Just look at where your family member is at. Look at The Arc’s advocate support, self-advocacy groups, all of the behind-the-scenes work, and action alerts from the advocacy team. All of the work The Arc has done with alternatives to guardianship is invaluable. The Arc Guides are a great place to start if you ask “How could the arc help me?” If you are stuck or at a roadblock, that is a good time to contact The Arc. Anytime you want policy change, there is probably a group at The Arc to walk alongside you to make the change. If you ask “Why this has to be this way?” The Arc will say it does not.”
The Arc Minnesota’s goal is that all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live a fulfilling life that is meaningful to them and have the tools to plan now and in the future.
For some people, planning for the future means financial security and for others it may be having a supportive group of friends and family. Whatever your reason for wanting to plan for the future, the Arc is here to help.