Dwelling of Guiding Arms receives $100,000 to assist respite care for kids with disabilities

Cynthia Magnuson says a typical day in her household is “total chaos”. She and her husband, Bob, are lucky to have more than five hours of sleep at night, and “self-care” often consists of doing non-stop family laundry or doing the shopping.

Their three young sons – Wesley, 8; Grayson, 4; and William, 3 – keep her very busy. Her youngest boys – whom she calls “the little ones” – both live with Autism Spectrum Disorder, while their oldest son has been diagnosed with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mood disorder.

“When you’re in such a circumstance, sometimes it’s so difficult just doing laundry or cleaning something because it’s a 24/7 job,” said Cynthia. “If I turn my back for two seconds, something bad can happen.”

After Grayson and William were diagnosed, Cynthia had to give up a career as a senior management consultant at Kaiser Permanente, where she enjoyed working so that she could take care of them.

Take them to and from school and protect them from harming themselves, each other, and the home. This remains a full time job, but it’s a little easier now with her family getting follow-up care from Home of Guiding Hands. The 15 hours of care her family receives each month helps Cynthia attend to her own health needs, and allows her and her husband to spend time alone or with their older son.

“Before the break, it was very difficult for me to take care of myself, see a doctor for my own health care, and visit my dentist,” said Cynthia. “Now that I have a break, I have the opportunity to plan these things and plan the self-care that I need to do.”

Thanks to a $ 100,000 donation from residents of Encinitas, Dave and Charlene Walker, more families like the Magnusons can enjoy free follow-up care from Home of Guiding Hands, a nonprofit with offices in El Cajon and El Centro.

Dave Walker sits with Grayson Magnuson, 4, while brother William, 3, is swung by their father, Bob Magnuson

Dave Walker, a Home of Guiding Hands donor, sits with Grayson Magnuson, 4, while Brother William, 3, is swung by their father, Bob Magnuson, in El Cajon, CA on Friday, April 9, 2021.

(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The money will be used to provide 2,780 hours of free follow-up care to parents of children under 3 years of age with intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, or medical fragility.

President and CEO Mark Klaus was shocked to learn of the Walkers’ donation, saying the new program was a rarity from other similar relief programs that only care for children ages 3 through adulthood.

The funding will continue to support families caring for someone with a health diagnosis, especially at a time when so many people are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know families have problems and this goes a long way in helping these families,” he said. “It is always difficult to have young children, but this is a new experience, especially for many of our families. Having a child is exciting, and when families receive the news that their child may have additional needs, it is devastating at the same time. “

The Walkers have volunteered with organizations that support people with disabilities both separately and separately throughout their adult lives. In fact, Charlene – a Connecticut transplant – and San Diego-born Dave met years ago while volunteering at The Arc of San Diego’s Harvest Ball.

The added help of a professional caregiver trained to care for the needs of a child with a disability can put the peace of mind of parents who may otherwise be uncomfortable with an untrained relative or babysitter.

As a mother of three, Charlene remembers the stress of looking after her children – who are not neurologically atypical – while her husband was away on business.

“With the first baby, you really don’t know what you’re doing and everything was new and stressful,” she said. “Sometimes it was overwhelming to do it all yourself and take care of all three, and it’s exhausting.”

Professional caregivers for people with functional needs related to a disability can be too expensive for many families and often do not have access to aftercare.

Dave said that family carers are often so busy focusing their energies on loved ones that self-care comes second. He hopes the follow-up care covered by your donation will allow parents and other family caregivers of young children to recharge and, in turn, allow them to manage their children’s care more effectively.

“If the caregivers can be strong, if the caregivers can rest and take a break, then the better they are for those they care about,” said Dave.

For more information on Home of Guiding Hands, visit or call (619) 938-2850.

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