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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

THE FAMILY PICNIC

Every summer around this time a picnic is held for the families of the agency, Suffolk AHRC. The agency is dedicated to the betterment of life for those less fortunate than we are who suffer from developmental disabilities. Using a large tract of land under the shadow of a baseball diamond owned by the Suffolk County PBA, there are two large tents covering hundreds of chairs and tables. There is a set up for food and drinks and a place for various amusements. It costs nothing and is devoted to the families who have children in the various programs both in the agency and other agencies on Long Island.

In buses, RV's, small shuttle buses and even cars, a large parking lot is filled to capacity, and as they unload the passengers there is a parade of wheelchairs, walkers, and canes, people who can walk, but not well and on occasion aids and drivers as they enter the area. The smoke from the grilling of the hamburgers casts a cloud over the grills and slowly dissipates into the sometimes, windy air, which casts itself as a cool breeze cooling the humidity down to bearable.

As I sit under the tent that protects me and fellow board members as we eat and chat with the participants from the many homes that attend, I watch the parade f arrivals and try to recognize each group that comes, while also looking for my daughter. I wonder: where are the families? Where are the parents, brothers, and sisters of the program participants?

Then it occurred to me that perhaps I misunderstood the meaning of family in this case. Where were the families? They were all around me, sitting together having hot dogs, hamburgers, and sodas, eating popcorn and ice-cream, they are all housemates.

And here is the fun thing, they don't necessarily need mothers and fathers who don't show up, they have each other, and sometimes they greet people from other homes like long lost friends, hugging and kissing one another. Could there be a better family than that?

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