Family Home Provider – Nurturing Hope at Cedar Lake

Family Home Provider – Nurturing Hope at Cedar Lake

Women embrace in hug with a man smiling in background wearing dark glasses

Power of the Family Home Provider Program

At Cedar Lake, we know life has a knack for offering solace just when it’s needed most. Yolonda and Tony Fakir faced an overwhelming wave of grief when they lost their daughter, Kyra, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This profound loss prompted Yolonda to make the difficult decision to step away from her position at McKesson where she was an operations manager.

Kyra, their only daughter, held a special place in her parents’ hearts. She was born with big dreams and had a heart for helping others, especially individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Before her passing, Krya was planning on opening an independent group home so she could help those with IDD.

It was through the Family Home Provider (FHP) program at Cedar Lake that Yolonda was able to help live out Kyra’s dream by offering a home to Darlene in August 2023. “Darlene coming into our lives helped heal some of the hurt we faced following Kyra’s death,” said Yolonda.

The Fakir’s knew there was a way to honor their daughter and be a blessing to others. Yolonda began looking for opportunities to help individuals who need it most, exploring the possibility of foster care and the family home provider program through the VA, but the fit wasn’t quite what her family was looking for until she discovered Cedar Lake had an FHP program. “When looking at the list of the providers Cedar Lake popped out because I knew about them and their longstanding reputation,” continued Yolonda.

Becoming an FHP provider involves a comprehensive process, including meetings, background checks, home inspection, and training. The effort invested paid off when Yolonda and Tony crossed paths with Darlene. “At that point, we hadn’t decided if we were going to proceed with the Family Home Provider program, but meeting Darlene sealed the deal,” Tony recalled. “Darlene is a good person. Good people deserve to live a good life. We are grateful and blessed to be able to help her in whatever way that we can,” he continued.

Yolonda emphasized the significance of the role: “When you become a Family Home Provider, that’s precisely what you’re doing – providing a family and a home for someone. It’s a blessing, a calling. Be prepared to expand your family and help someone become the best version of themselves.”

Known affectionately as “Aunt Darlene” to Yolonda’s extended family, Darlene, hailing from a family of seven children, is well-acquainted with the dynamics of large families. Despite now residing with Yolonda and Tony, she remains close to her siblings, including her twin. After her parents passed away, Darlene initially lived with a few others, but the need for a more permanent solution arose to ensure ongoing care and support.

“There was a connection with Yolonda from the start for me and for Darlene. She and Tony not only help with her daily needs, but they have also made her part of their lives,” said Darlene’s sister, Debbie.

Adventures and Fun with the Fakirs

The Family Home Provider opened up valuable opportunities for Darlene, enabling her to participate in day training at Cedar Lake Enrichment Center in LaGrange. This experience has allowed her to consistently learn, engage socially, and nurture her independence. Whether reuniting with her best friend at Cedar Lake or spending quality time with Yolonda and Tony, Darlene is steadily gaining confidence each day.

Over the past eight months, Darlene has seamlessly integrated into the Fakir family, embarking on exciting adventures such as swimming with dolphins at the beach in Florida and exploring the Motown Museum in Michigan. Anticipating more beach time in the future, she eagerly looks forward to further deepening her connection with the Fakirs.

Yolonda best sums up being a family home provider, “The Family Home Provider program is more than providing a home, it is providing hope.”