Success Stories

Family Testimonials

I’m not sure who Night Lights helps the most – us as parents, our special needs kiddo, the siblings, or the volunteers! We have developed an especially close relationship with Cici’s specific volunteer, who really, really loves Cici, just as she is, and Cici loves her back. When Cici had trach surgery in January, her volunteer, Connie, came all the way out to the hospital to visit her in the PICU. She made her CD’s with music she thought Cici would like. Connie has a special connection with Cici, and we always know we are leaving Cici in good hands at Night Lights. Organizing for a few hours out of the house without children involves lining up a nurse AND a babysitter – and honestly, after arranging everything else for all the kids every other day, arranging for a night out doesn’t usually make my “to-do” list – so it really never happens. I love that Night Lights is just “there” for us, and I don’t have to do anything but get there. It’s a bonus that we are connected to the volunteers in such a strong way, and the kids have made such strong and positive connections – these are connections we will have long past our Night Lights days, I am sure of it. We are not Christian, so it is important to us that we have a place to go that is open to us and our beliefs.
Jenny F.

To say our family has been touched by Night Lights would be an understatement. Yes, Night Lights does an amazing job providing respite care to families who have children with special needs. As we have observed in the last two years, it really provides so much more. It is easy to address the obvious: how much my two boys love having a friend that does whatever they want for an entire evening, all the fun activities, the therapy pets, being around other kids or how much my husband and I enjoy a quiet evening out knowing our kids are in an accepting and safe place where both of their needs are being met. The not so obvious things include: the bond our youngest (and typical) son has made with his special friend, Mr. Larry, the personalized bag of goodies, beautiful handmade shawls and quilts that were passed out to the families – a reminder that we are not alone on our journey, Girls Scouts who gave us the gift of time by wrapping our Christmas presents, an evening of appetizers allowing us the opportunity to connect with other “special” parents, a post surgery hospital visit from two Bright Lights volunteers who brought a much needed ray of sunshine to our day. Having a child with a rare chromosome disorder and significant gastrointestinal issues, I have learned how important it is to create a community for our family. In many ways, the Night Lights team has helped to create part of that community for us. We are so blessed to be a part of it.
The Abbott Family

The Night Lights program has been wonderful for our family. We have a child who has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism and requires constant line of sight supervision. Without any family in the area, we are tapped out emotionally and physically by the pressure of constantly watching and caring for our daughter. At Night Lights, we feel that our children are in very capable hands because the staff are very caring and responsible.

Our entire family looks forward to Friday night Lights! Many times, my husband and I just enjoy a quiet evening at home ALONE watching a movie and snuggling on the couch. This is usually the only time we can really relax in our own home without constantly supervising our very active child. Both Our children love to attend Night Lights for the fun activities and the chance to play with the friends they have made there. Our daughter literally runs to the door every month to get to Night Lights.

Having a child with intellectual and developmental disability is an exhausting and isolating experience but we have made many friends and now feel part of the Night Lights family. Thank you for creating such a wonderful program.
Robin and Peter V.

The Paul family first learned about night lights a couple of years ago. We have been blessed with 3 beautiful children, 2 of whom have some extra challenges in life. Our 9 year old daughter has a one of a kind genetic disorder that has stumped Dr.’s for years, our 7 year old son has autism and we have a bright and bubbly typical 5 year old. For us, going on a date is a rare and magnificent treat. Babysitting for children with special needs generally starts at $20/hour and is out of reach for many families like ours. As parents of special needs kids, respite time away from the little ones is critical to maintain a healthy and strong marriage. Night Lights has provided us with the ability to go on a date as a couple and know that our kids will be safe, cared for, and tuckered out from a night of fun. Even our typical child, who often gets the short end of the stick, gets her own special friend to play with, pretend with, and tell stories to all evening long without interruption! On our recent drive to Wisconsin to see family our 7 year old informed us, “Mom, it’s Friday and there’s Night Lights tonight. I think we need to go back and leave for the trip tomorrow.”

We have been so blessed by all the special parties and beautiful gifts that have come through the amazing people at Night Lights, but mostly for the gift of rest that so many volunteers make possible! Thank you Night Lights for being a bright light in our family.
Amy and Aaron Paul
Ellie(9), Noah(7), Hannah(5)

Volunteer Testimonials

My husband, Craig, and I have been Night Lights volunteers from the very beginning. It is very rewarding working with these amazing children, both children with special needs and their siblings. On top of it being rewarding, it’s absolutely fun! We are each paired with a child each month, and often, we are with the same child. When my “main kid” sees that I am to be her buddy for the night, her face lights up. I don’t believe any child has ever been bored at Night Lights (or adults, for that matter)! There are so many different activities to try, and everyone is laughing and smiling. Night Lights is incredibly organized so that there is always an extra adult on hand when we volunteers need a short break. The leaders are close by if we have questions, and they even have great young volunteers called Bright Lights, pre-teens trained to play with the kids alongside the adult volunteers. They bring another level of play “kid to kid” with great patience and love. We raised two healthy kids, for which we are grateful. For parents who have children with special, life is tough. We are so happy to be able to bless the lives of these families through simply coming and playing with amazing kids once a month. What better way to say thanks to God for our children?
Craig and Janice S.

I am so fortunate to be involved in the Night Lights respite program. I have met so many quality people: everyone from our dedicated leadership team to our adult and teen volunteers and the families with special needs children and their siblings. Parents are so appreciative to have a night out without having to worry about their children. They know they are in good hands regardless of their medical needs or health condition. Kristin Steadman and the Leadership Team work tirelessly addressing every detail to ensure that children are safe and have an enjoyable evening. The smiles on everyone’s faces, kids and volunteers, say it all.
Mary Rae Pacheco, RN

I have been a Night Lights volunteer for several years and it has changed my life in so many ways. I went from, “Yea, I think I would like to help out these families sometimes,” to, “We need to come back a day early from vacation so I don’t miss Night Lights!”

When the opportunity first came to me, I was very apprehensive, a little scared, and not sure if I would be able to be helpful to a child with special needs. I’m a teacher and I felt comfortable being with a sibling but, I wasn’t sure I was “qualified” or “equipped” to be with a child that had special needs. I had never had that kind of experience before other than casual encounters where the parents or others were taking care of the children. I really wanted to help, and God was tugging at my heart so, I trusted Him and took the “plunge.”

The Night Lights team was SO encouraging, understanding, and helpful. There were so many opportunities for every type of “comfort level” and they supported me when I wanted to try to be with a child with special needs. I didn’t feel alone at all. There was so much support between leaders, nurses, and other volunteers that I felt secure, knowing help was one step away wherever I was.

Now, I’m “buddied” with a little girl I am usually with on a continual basis and I love her dearly. She gives me more joy and love than I could have ever imagined. I have pictures of her on my fridge and artwork she has done up in my house. Every time I go, ALL the children there touch me in ways that usually bring me to tears. I, myself, am constantly learning and growing. They have it “tougher” than most of us and yet they are loving, joyful, and just want to have fun. They have given me a new perspective on life. I think of them wherever I am, looking at life, people, and experiences through different eyes that give me more compassion, love, and understanding.

I’m so thankful and blessed that I have the privilege to help and make an impact on a child’s life and their family. But now it seems so small in comparison to the huge impact that these children and families have made on me, my heart, and my life.
Connie S.

Night Lights has been such a wonderful program for not only the kiddos, but for the volunteers, as well. The Night Lights leadership and events are so well organized that volunteering is very easy. I can’t believe it’s been two and a half years that I’ve been a part of this. It’s still just as much fun now as it was the first night. The families of these incredibly special children are amazing people, and it feels wonderful to be able to give them a few hours to do whatever they want while knowing that their kiddos are safe and having fun. I love being a part of Night Lights, and look forward to it every month.
Scott D.

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