To the Camachos, opening their home to others comes naturally. When she was a child, Sheila Camacho’s parents fostered over 300 children and teenagers; it was simply a part of how her family lived. After one of the children in their home aged out of foster care and still needed a place to live, Sheila’s parents began opening their home to adults with developmental disabilities. That’s when “Uncle Russ” first came to live with her family.
Russ joined the family when Sheila was only 7 years old, making it difficult for her to remember a time when Russ wasn’t a part of her life. After the unexpected death of her mother nine years ago, Sheila, her husband, Lucio, and their two young boys, Landon and Luca, welcomed Uncle Russ into their home. Five years later, the Camacho family grew again when Ronnie joined the household.
“My family doesn’t see disabilities as flaws. Our work with DePaul has taught them to see the good—and I think that’s pretty neat.” – Sheila Camacho
For Russ and Ronnie—two men who might otherwise live inside the walls of an institution—living with the Camachos as part of DePaul’s sponsored residential program means being active and engaged in their local community. The family volunteers, plays sports, and participates in several church groups together. Ronnie, an extrovert, loves socializing and cooking on the grill. Russ, who is more introverted, still chooses to participate in the family’s adventures.
“Whenever we are hiking and encounter a stream, it takes the whole family to make sure Russ gets across,” Sheila said, smiling. “If there’s a challenge, we just figure out a way through.” This perfectly reflects the Camacho family’s spirit of inviting others in and making a way for them.
Both Landon and Luca are a big part of Russ and Ronnie’s lives as well. The four of them have developed their own special language of thumbs ups and fist bumps. “My family doesn’t see disabilities as flaws,” Sheila said. “Our work with DePaul has taught them to see the good—and I think that’s pretty neat.”
Sponsored residential providers, such as Sheila and her family, provide hope and belonging every day to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Contact DePaul today at 888-233-7285 or use the form below to learn how you can help.