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Empty Stocking: The Resource Exchange supports people with special needs

Tags: Empty Stocking Fund Recent News

This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund campaign that runs through the holidays.

No matter what Sonia Tiner needs for her disabled son, the Resource Exchange in Colorado Springs almost always is able to help.

Tazmun Heeks, 18, requires full-time care, and the Resource Exchange has filled the void when Tiner, her husband and their other children need a break.

Every year, the Resource Exchange supports thousands of people who have developmental disabilities in the Pikes Peak region. The organization assists families with children who have special needs by providing care, connecting them with resources and offering other programs and services to enhance lives and also improve abilities to learn.

The Resource Exchange has been helping Tazmun and his family for the past five years. He was born with a hypoplastic left heart, a rare defect that leaves the left side of the heart severely underdeveloped and unable to pump blood to the lungs and through the rest of the body. While he did receive a heart transplant at 11 months old, it was two weeks too late and he suffered from a lack of oxygen and blood flow to his brain.

Tazmun is blind, deaf in one ear and quadriplegic. He has developmental disabilities from brain damage, scoliosis, chronic lung disease, a breathing disorder and stage four kidney failure. He is not eligible for a kidney transplant.

The respite care the agency offers is a huge relief to Tiner and the rest of the family.

"It lets us get a break and feel relaxed and rejuvenated and know that he's being taken care of," Tiner said. "It takes a lot of the stress off us. . Ninety percent of the time, they're willing to help and able to help me."

The Resource Exchange provides Tiner's family with emotional support too, connecting them with others who have children like Tazmun, and they've helped with expenses insurance doesn't cover. When Tiner's accessible van broke down, the Resource Exchange was there to help pay for repairs.

"They're amazing," Tiner said.