From left: David Steppe, Wilmalea Nearhood, and Patricia Knapp
Lifesharing: A Family Tells Their Story
When Patricia Knapp of Williamsport learned about Lifesharing, she loved the idea of opening her empty nest home to individuals with a disability. She crunched the numbers and realized if she and her husband, Wayne, hosted two individuals they could afford for her to quit her job and stay at home with their grandchildren. Lifesharing supports individuals with intellectual disabilities to live with qualified unrelated adults who provide support in their home. Lifesharing is both a close personal relationship and a place to live.
Lifesharing comes naturally to Patricia, who grew up in a big family. She says the most important quality in a lifesharer is a willingness to make people feel at home.
“It’s not, ‘You are renting a room in my home,’ but ‘You are a part of my family now,’” she said. “It’s just family. It’s always Patty, Wayne, David, and Wilmalea.”
David Steppe needed a home for one weekend 17 years ago and has lived with Patricia and Wayne Knapp ever since.
“I like living with them. They treat me nice,” David said. He likes Pat’s cooking and enjoys singing in the church choir. They’ve traveled together to Disneyworld three times, to the Florida Keys, Chicago, and Maryland.
David is Patricia’s right-hand man, she said. “If I am doing laundry he wants to help me. If I’m raking leaves, he wants to help me. If I get my granddaughter out of the car, he says, ‘Do you want me to carry her?’”
Wilmalea has lived with the family for 14 years. Her sense of humor is a great addition to the family, Patty said.
On a typical day, on Wayne’s way to work he drops David off at his job at a snack food company then picks him up on his way home. During the day Wilma and Patty run errands and visit Patty’s mother.
Patty says the best part of Lifesharing is that she gets to provide love and care for David and Wilmalea. “I added to my family,” she said.
For more information on Lifesharing, visit the DHS website and the PA Lifesharing Coalition