Parent's Night Out

. October 30, 2015.

Respite for parents of children with special needs is a valuable commodity. Date night, girls’ night out, or just a relaxing evening alone is a treat many parents struggle to experience on a regular basis, despite the strong need for a little self-care. In 2010, Grace Ann Arbor Church noticed this need and responded to it with Helping Hands, a respite night for parents of children with special needs and their siblings. Sarah Reeves, a member of Grace Ann Arbor Church, and Helping Hands founder, describes the program,  “Parents drop off their children with us and we hang out and have a great time while Mom and Dad can go to a movie, grab dinner, or even take a nap. While the kids are with us, we have crafts and activities, a snack, and watch a movie. Each child (both those with special needs and their siblings) are partnered individually with a trained volunteer who hangs out with them the entire night.”

Volunteers are trained to respond to the needs of the individual child, and parents provide specific information about their child when they sign up for the event, including best ways to communicate, unique needs and interests. “Our general approach is to meet the children at their ability level, and make sure that we empower them within the evening to participate as much or as little as they would like,” Reeves explains. “By including the siblings in the event, we hope it allows parents to relax and reconnect. In addition, we love the relationships that we build with the children that attend.”

To learn more about Helping Hands, or to sign up for an upcoming event, contact Sarah Reeves at, or visit