WEST MONROE, La. — Raising a child with special needs can sometimes leave parents needing both resources and support without anyone to turn to.

That’s where Families Helping Families steps in and lends a helping hand to make sure those parents have someone they can lean on.

Executive Director Stacey Guidry says that having raised an autistic child of her own is why she joined the organization 4 years ago.

“I felt isolated and alone a lot when he was growing up. I feel like my experience gives me the opportunity to make sure no other family has to go through that and they have what they need when they need it instead of feeling like they are struggling to maintain,” said Guidry.

Families Helping Families is staffed by parents of children with disabilities who have firsthand experience navigating the system to make sure the families they serve have all the resources they need when facing the challenge of a new diagnosis.

Amongst a staff of 7 and a handful of volunteers, Families Helping Families provides services for nearly 3,000 families throughout the year including a monthly variety class called ‘Friday Focus’.

Guidry said, “We stage training and workshops. We recently had a self-defense class. Sometimes we do fun things. We go bowling, go out to eat, see a movie, but we have no funding for this program.”

Guidry says that the main purpose of ‘Friday Focus’ is to get many of these individuals with disabilities out in their communities so that there is greater acceptance and people can see they have the same wants and desires as the rest of us do.