To the Young Woman at Special Needs Summer Camp Who Reached Out to Us

I’m thankful for so many people in our lives — family, friends, co-workers, teachers, paraprofessionals and neighbors. So many individuals have cared about us and supported us along the way.

But there’s one special individual in our lives who we can never begin to thank enough. And no money in the world can repay her kindness. I want to thank our amazing caregiver, Beth.

I don’t know how or why we were blessed to have Beth in Zach’s camp group all those years ago; it was another case of being in the right place at the right time and karma. There’s no doubt in my mind it was a type of divine intervention.

Zach had been attending SCAMP (the special needs summer day camp) for several years. He had a reputation for being a handful. He was a runner, a biter and could have a meltdown like no one else. I remember my husband talking to me about a nice young gal who seemed to hit it off with Zach.

Then one day a miracle happened. In Zach’s notebook was a note: “If you ever need someone to help out or watch Zach, I would love to help.” Wait, what? Someone was approaching us? This was too good to be true!  She didn’t have to ask twice; I called her the next day.

Beth was just finished with high school but had the maturity, gentleness, kindness and patience that few individuals her age exhibit.  She jumped right in — even with meltdowns, being bitten, dealing with toilet accidents and all kinds of behavior. Much to our surprise, she kept coming back. And she’s been coming back for 11 years.

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I can’t explain the relationship she and Zach have; he adores her, and he’s a different young man with her.  As soon as Beth walks into the house, his eyes light up, the biggest smile comes over his face, and he’s ready to go on an adventure. He does things for Beth he won’t do for anyone else. They have a trust and bond that he shares with no one else.

Beth has grown up with Zach and is a part of our family. She’s like another daughter to us and the big sister our daughter, Emily, never had. I know our days with her are numbered, and someday soon she will be off teaching, getting married and starting a family of her own. She’s set the bar high for all other caregivers and Mike constantly tells me (when I’m listing the less-than-desirable traits about a prospective caregiver), “Michelle, you can’t always compare everyone to Beth,” but I always will. I only want the “Beths” in Zach’s life; I only want people who love him and understand him and see his beauty and potential. I only want Beths who get him and have expectations of him and most importantly, have a connection with him.

I’m still not sure why Beth picked us all those years ago, but we never take for granted the blessing she’s been to our family!

I don’t know how you thank someone for being such a special part of your children’s lives other than love them back. Beth, we will be forever grateful for having you in our lives.

For all of November, The Mighty is celebrating the people we don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please submit a thank you note along with a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to [email protected].

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