The first time Caury Hurst walked in the front door of Matthew’s House, she was overcome by a feeling of complete and utter calm.
“I knew that this would be alright,” she remembers. “I could walk right back out that front door and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Quentin, would be loved and taken care of.”
Located in Abbotsford, Matthew’s House supports families by providing individualized respite care in a homelike environment for children who live with complex care needs. Respite care gives parents a much needed break to rest and rejuvenate. For families like the Hurst family, Matthew’s House makes possible those activities that were once out of reach.
Caury and her husband have three children. They are a close-knit and loving family and do as much as possible together. Their middle child, Quentin lives with significant challenges. His diagnoses include Autism, Epilepsy and Intellectual Delay. He is non-verbal and has delayed gross/fine motor development. A Sensory Processing Disorder makes it difficult to be in places with too much stimulation.
It’s difficult to measure the impact that Quentin’s challenges have on their family life because it’s the only life the Hurst’s have ever known. Going out together is a matter of thorough planning, considering and weighing every possibility, ensuring that alternate plans are always in place. Caury says this is simply how they “do family.”
Focusing on the positive is an important family value and they celebrate the gifts that Quentin has brought into their lives.
“Quentin has taught us all that empathy is a required skill for healthy, happy children and adults,” Caury says. “Without it, you forget quite easily how this world is not all about you.”
Quentin has deeply impacted their other children. His younger brother is very sensitive to others in his class who live with spectrum disorders, watching out for and defending them. Quentin’s older sister has a very unique perspective: “I would be ordinary without Quentin,” she says.
Being prepared and focusing on the positive are coping skills that work well for the Hurst family. Still, having a child who requires round-the-clock care can take its toll. Before Quentin began visiting Matthew’s House, Caury and her husband had had one night alone as a couple in 15 years. When Caury heard about Matthew’s House it felt like a glimmer of hope. She clearly remembers her first phone call with manager, Wendy Toohey.
“I was so nervous when I called the first time. I prayed, and prayed some more,” she says. “I was crying most of the time. Wendy really listened to me. She had all the right words of encouragement and gave me the strength required to even agree to fill out the application form.”
Since that first phone call, Quentin has visited Matthew’s House regularly. His visits give Caury an opportunity to rest and take time to do little things like take a nap, read a book or visit with friends. It gives her and her husband a chance to focus on each other. They enjoy doing special things with their other children like going to the movies. Matthew’s House makes all of this possible.
“If it weren’t for Matthew’s House, I would have felt that I had no way out. I was unable to let go and trust someone else to be able to properly deal with Quentin on the same level that I do,” she says. “I know that Quentin loves it there too because he’s not stressed when I pick him up. Matthew’s House really is a magical place.”