April 15, 2020
By CHUCK BALLARO (firstname.lastname@example.org) , North Fort Myers Neighbor
A holiday tradition went on at the LARC House in North Fort Myers, thanks to some first responders.
The North Fort Myers Fire Control District brought a fire engine to the home on Friday, “egging” the house and yard with plastic eggs for the residents to find.
LARC’s mission is to serve people with developmental disabilities. Their residential home in North Fort Myers currently has five individuals residing and two caregivers.
The NFMFD, with permission from LARC staff, secretly dropped eggs in the front yard. After the eggs were dropped, the fire engine came, lights and sirens blaring, alerting the residents to come out and enjoy the fun.
“We wanted to do an outreach for our self-isolating communities that haven’t been able to get out of the house while bringing some joy into their day,” said Christi Kulwicki, fire inspector and spokesperson for the NFMFD. “We’ve adopted the LARC home and public relations have been at a standstill. So, this is something quick and easy to do to get them out of the house.”
Kulwicki previously came out to inspect the home annually, and got to know Laurie Shears, LARC manager, and the residents well. When Shears asked Kulwicki to do something for the residents at Christmas, it started a great partnership between LARC and the NFMFD.
This surprise for the residents helped to break up the monotony of the day with, social distancing rules followed.
“These residents are developmentally disabled and are in need of help in some aspects of their lives, whether it’s grocery shopping, hygiene or whatever other needs,” said Vickie Chapman, residential director at LARC. “Even though they’re adults, you can see on their faces the joy. Holidays are important to them, just like a family.”
Shears said they are stressing to residents to wash their hands regularly and have started to tune in to cartoons and lighter shows so they don’t get bogged down too much with the current health crisis.
Shears said events like the egg drop bring much-needed joy to their lives.
“These residents have been in total isolation for three weeks. It’s a great thing for them even in normal circumstances, but it’s especially great because they get so little interaction with people,” Shears said. “These people are like everyone else. They’re bored and want to get out of the house. They look forward to going out like everyone else.”