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D'Vine Path offers Kindred Hearts support gatherings

FALLBROOK – On every third Thursday, D'Vine Path will be hosting "Kindred Hearts," a support group for parents and caretakers of adult children with disabilities. Kindred Hearts provides attendees with a close-knit support system full of resources and welcoming arms.

The group was originally started in 2020 by D'Vine Path Executive Director Lenila Lingad Batali and has continued to grow ever since. After noticing a need for support within the community, Batali began Kindred Hearts to fill that need.

Now, over 55 families have the opportunity to gain knowledge through Kindred Hearts and create meaningful connections with parents that have had similar experiences with their children. Attendees must care for a neurodivergent child over the age of 18, but the children do not need to be students at D'Vine Path.

According to the National Library of Medicine, it is imperative for parents and caretakers of disabled adults to have resources and a strong support system in order to best care for themselves and their loved ones.

The National Library of Medicine states: "Parenting a child with developmental disabilities (DD) or serious mental illnesses (SMI) is known to be stressful, taking a long-term toll on parents' mental and physical health... Thus, in developing programs and services to promote the well-being of aging parents, it is important for such parents to support their disabled adult children in their pursuit of employment, education and marriage as they were all predictors of lower levels of ambivalence among aging parents, which in turn was associated with more positive physical and mental health outcomes."

Kindred Hearts works to assist attendees in finding and pursuing resources to better themselves and the lives of their loved ones. They meet every third Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a potluck to start off the night. After attendees eat and socialize, they move into the educational portion of the night. Each month, they either participate in a fun craft or they host an informative presentation. These presentations so far have included information about Social Security benefits, adult living options and more.

Currently, Kindred Hearts is led by Sandi Anderson and Lisa Houghtelin. Anderson is a mother of two adult sons on the autism spectrum and she has been advocating for parents of disabled adults for 36 years across San Diego as well as internationally.

Houghtelin has also been actively involved in the community; she spent 16 years as the parent liaison for the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education. Before that, she was a resource parent for the Exceptional Family Resource center and United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego county.

"Our goal is for each parent to know that they are not going through life alone," Anderson said. "They have a safe space where they can be themselves and help access resources in our community for their family."

According to Houghtelin, Kindred Hearts welcomes all parents and caretakers of adults with disabilities and provides many informative opportunities. Not only that, the support group is completely free of cost.

"We are focused on coming together to support each other with our shared experiences and knowledge. It's a come as you are, guilt-free group," Houghtelin said. "Come when it works for you and your schedule. We only ask each parent to bring a dish to share for potluck dinner when they come. There is no cost."

A few of the future informative presentations include information about In Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Special Needs Trusts, CalABLE accounts, Self-Determination, Department of Rehabilitation, Conservatorships and alternatives, social/recreation resources and more.

Located on the D'Vine Path Farm and Vineyards at 4735 Olive Hill Road in Fallbrook, the support group aims to inform the families of adults with disabilities and create a welcoming, helpful community focusing on bettering themselves and other families with similar needs.

Kindred Hearts member and D'Vine Path parent Veronica Saldana expressed that she has had a positive experience bonding and growing with other parents and caretakers at the support group.

"We feel so welcomed and the support we receive is so wonderful," Saldana said. "What is so beautiful about this group is that we've become sisters and family at heart. We can cry with one another, laugh with one another and feel each other's embrace."

The next meeting will be held on Oct. 19 where attendees have the opportunity to organize essential paperwork for their children and apply for important resources together.

For more information about Kindred Hearts as well as RSVP information, visit https://www.dvinepath.org/resources.

Submitted by D'Vine Path.

 

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