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Inspired by the power of inclusion and community

Meet the Habecker Family

Douglassville, Pa

Nicki Habecker didn’t plan to become an advocate for inclusion. “This was not my trajectory,” she says. “I had this whole vision of how my life would look. I never imagined having a child with disabilities. Yet, having a son with multiple disabilities has truly inspired me, my family and the many others he touches with his beautiful smile and genuine love of people.”

After their three children were born, “priorities changed, I fell in love with being a mom and my family” Nicki says. “Early on my husband traveled a lot and worked very long hours. It would have been hard for both of us to have two demanding careers…but I don’t have any regrets and we’re doing well. My family comes first.”

She doesn’t let her son Josh’s complex needs stand in his – or any member of the family’s – way. “Our pediatric neurologist told us to ‘let him be your guide,’ and presuming competence is what we’ve done. Because of his words, we have not placed limitations on him. There is always a way to make things work. We’re a very close-knit family. We do pretty much everything together, including Friday night campfires with pizza and s’mores where everyone is welcome. There are significant language barriers, but Joshua loves being around people and he loves having fun. All the kids know him; he’s a valued member of our community.”

“Joshua is in three regular education classes in his neighborhood high school, and he’s the first student with his complex needs to do that. Our journey of inclusion has been filled with challenges, tribulations, joys and success. Working together with early intervention, the school district and with our community; Joshua is thriving. He will graduate with his class,” Nicki adds of their family’s intentional approach to inclusion in a traditional school experience for now-17-year old Josh. “I could not be more proud of my family, school or community!”

Nicki now works for The Arc of Pennsylvania and as a Pennsylvania family network advisor with Vision for Equality, so she is acutely aware of the value that state-funded human services provide Josh and the entire family. “DHS services have truly been an asset to our family,” she says. “We strive very hard to do as much as we can on our own; however, we do appreciate the support, knowledge and care we receive. As much as our family would like to ‘do it on our own,’ the reality is we cannot. Joshua requires 24-hour supervision and total care. As we now are planning for his transition to adulthood, the supports and services we receive on behalf of Joshua continue to be of critical importance.”

The family believes it is so important for children, youth, families and communities to continue to have access to assistance for success. “We are grateful for the care, support and assistance our family receives.”

Thank your legislators for making Human Services funding a priority in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania budget.

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