Help change a life
June 19, 2021
Mary and Milford (Bud) Bell have been with California MENTOR for 12 years.
They first found out about the Family Home Agency (FHA) program from an ad in the PennySaver. Having previously been foster parents, they had already been through background checks, orientation and certification for the Kern County Foster Family Network. They adopted two children they fostered. At the time of the adoption, Bud was also taking care of his mother, who had Alzheimers, in their home. He was able to play “Mr. Mom” to the children and his mother, and contractor and general jack of all trades around the home after leaving his job in aerospace in Mojave, an industry he had worked with for 27 years.
After his mother passed away, Bud looked to resume working in the aerospace industry. It was a difficult time for employment in the field though, and he made the decision to retire from the aerospace industry. Then Bud saw the ad for California MENTOR’s FHA program and felt drawn to it as the model reminded him of caring for his mother. He and Mary went to learn more at the orientation and decided to become FHA providers, called Mentors.
Byron, 24 years old, has been with the Bells since 2016. Bud said he integrates well with their family. He is local, born and raised in Boron, and he has many similar interests as the Bells. He likes weather and geo-phenomena. He loves technology and is especially interested in tracking weather and storms.
Like many young men, Byron was ready to leave his family home. For individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, opportunities like this can be limited. That’s why the FHA program is important. Byron made the decision to leave his family home to live in a Mentor home. He was matched with the Bells. It was the first time Byron had left home. It was a bit of an adjustment for everyone, but soon Byron became part of the family. The Bells respect that Byron is his own person and an adult. They help him be more independent while giving him the support he needs.
The three of them go camping and fishing. They have traveled to the top of the Sierras, Death Valley and the Pinnacles and even stood inside the San Andreas fault in the Carizzo Plain National Monument, west of Taft. In early 2020 they camped at Success Lake near Porterville and more recently have been able to camp and fish at Brite Lake.
Before COVID-19, Byron attended a day program in Tehachapi. While the day program has been closed during the pandemic, Byron has been studying academic programs online, and he reports that they are quite satisfactory although he misses the social aspect of his classes at the day program. He is looking forward to it opening soon.
The Bells currently have two horses, six goats (two does and this year’s kids), nine chickens and five dogs. Byron enjoys farm life and feeds the dogs as one of his chores. Part of the FHA program is to help individuals build skills and reach goals based on their interests and needs. Bryon cleans his own room and bathroom and manages his own money. The Bells support him when he needs it. He enjoys doing his chores and taking responsibility. He sets his own daily schedule, has programmed his phone with alarms to remind him to take his medications and is very independent in many ways.
The Bells recently left for a six-week vacation to Texas and New Jersey, traveling and visiting friends along the way. Byron, who sometimes joins them on their trips and sometimes decides not to, is looking forward to spending time with his family in Boron and with another Mentor family in Tehachapi of which he is fond.
Byron and the Bells continue to thrive together since they became a Mentor family five years ago.
California MENTOR provides community-based services to adults and children throughout the state. In the California MENTOR Family Home Agency (FHA) program, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in the private homes of their dedicated caregivers, called Mentors. Mentors comes from all walks of life. They can be empty-nesters, retirees, working professionals, young families or single adults. Mentors receive 24/7 support from California MENTOR’s team, as well as skill development and individualized service planning.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Mentor, visit http://www.camentorfha.com.