Feature

Ottawa Rotary Home adult respite program runs out of funds

Two young brothers struggling to overcome medical and financial difficulties say they will miss an Ottawa Rotary Home adult respite care program that is temporarily closing in February.

Corey Van Essen relied on program for break from caring for older brother Jessie

Corey and Jessie Van Essen say they had come to rely on Ottawa Rotary Home program. 2:23

Two young brothers struggling to overcome medical and financial difficulties say they will miss an Ottawa Rotary Home adult respite care program that is temporarily closing in February.

For the last year, Corey Van Essen, 20, has been caring for his brother Jessie, 22, who has been blind since the age of 13 and has some cognitive and physical disabilities.

Many listeners, viewers and readers have expressed an interest in aiding both the Van Essen brothers and the Ottawa Rotary Home.  Here are a few ways you can help:

A crowd-funding website has been set up on GoFundMe, in Cory and Jessie's name.

If you wish, you could send a personal note to Corey on Facebook.

Also, a special account has been opened in Corey's name at Scotiabank. Here's the account number: 20206-0339121.

If you prefer to donate to Rotary Home, more information is available on its website

Their mother, Linda, died just more than a year ago. She had a genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis, which made her more prone to tumours. After she developed a tumour on her spine, doctors were unable to remove it and she ended up paralyzed. She died on Dec. 20, 2012, after her lungs collapsed.

Jessie, who also has neurofibromatosis, lost his vision when he was 13 after receiving chemotherapy for a brain tumour. He also has cognitive and physical disabilities.

Program relies on province and fundraising

Jessie attends a day program through Ottawa Rotary Home, but had also been staying on the occasional weekend overnight as part of its Adult Respite Program.

Corey, left, has been caring for his older brother Jessie, right, since their mother died just more than a year ago. (CBC)
But funding for the weekend program will run out by the end of February, according to Rotary Home client services director Maria Contreras. She said the adult program is reliant on money from the province and fundraising initiatives, and won't reopen until it gets the funds it needs.

Corey said when his mother was in the hospital, he had to juggle two jobs and care for his brother while visiting her. He said since she's been gone, he's taken over as his brother's primary caregiver.

"I don't like to be alone, just because my head just starts flowing, and I just get overwhelmed," said Corey. "[I] just wanna yell and scream in a pillow, and cry all the time, because it's just been a year since I lost her, and it doesn't feel like a year, [it] feels like yesterday and it's still really hard on me.

"I just want a better life for me and Jessie, just working and working just to pay rent and supply all the things that Jessie needs. It's just a bit tough right now."

With just a high school diploma, Corey works at a car rental agency that allows him some flexibility with his hours, enough that he can take his brother to appointments.

While the respite program gave Corey a break, he said his brother Jessie also enjoyed it and will miss his "camp."

"He's very upset. There's one more week before it closes that he's going. It did help a lot, a week or weekend, even though I had to pay for it," he said.

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