The Agent Orange Benefits Act became law 1996. This law established a benefits package for the children of veterans who were born with spina bifida as a result of exposure during wartime service in either Korea or Vietnam. The Agent Orange Benefits Act provides lifetime healthcare services for those born with spina bifida and other disabilities associated with this condition.
In 2016, SYNERGY HomeCare of Rockville, MD received a call from the Veterans Affairs office regarding a young man in Montgomery County who had spina bifida. He fit all the criteria to benefit from the Agent Orange Act. Not well versed about spina bifida, the staff educated itself about the disease and how to best care for someone with it. What the staff did not learn was how one young man with this disease would change their lives.
This young man is Sam Hardwick. He may be limited physically by this disease, but mentally, he is as sharp as a tack. He is a sensitive, warm-hearted, witty and dedicated man. Sam is the youngest of nine children in a close knit and loving family.
Sam gets joy from his friendships with SYNERGY HomeCare caregivers. Obviously, the caregivers are there to help Sam with his activities of daily living, but the relationship between Sam and his caregivers has become so much more. He is able to connect with them emotionally which is important to Sam and his family.
Over the years Sam and Ross Fierman, the owner of SYNERGY HomeCare of Rockville have become close friends. The two have lunch together once a month, enjoy very animated discussions about their favorite sports teams and catching up on their day to day activities. Their relationship doesn’t stop at client and friendship because Sam is now part of the team at SYNERGY HomeCare as a staff assistant. Everyone is so pleased to have Sam on-board! His infectious smile lights up their days.
At the office, any time somebody is speaking about Sam, they have a smile on their face! Sam is delightful to be around and work with.
Sam’s Story, by Sam
It was time. My dad and mom began to realize they needed some help caring for me. We were concerned about letting strangers into our home and uncertain about how it would all work out.
We need not have worried. Under the expert supervision of Ross at SYNERGY HomeCare, we were introduced to some of the most talented and caring people that anyone could have hoped for.
I ended up with not only the best caretakers, Sam, Yenzi and Darrell, but some of the best friends I have known. They treat me like family and that’s how I feel about them as well.
I truly feel privileged that I was hired as a SYNERGY HomeCare employee and that I am working with really great people.
So, thanks guys, and keep up the great work! But this doesn’t mean I’m going to let you win at Yahtzee. We know who is the King of Yahtzee!
Conclusion by SYNERGY HomeCare owner, Ross Fierman:
“If you would have told me 20 years ago that my life will be changed for the better because of spina bifida, my eye rolls would have been very obvious. How absurd, right? But today, when I think of Sam and the joy he has brought into my life, it’s so very true.
The essential nature of being alive and being human is to experience life in its purest form -- the wins and losses, celebrations and challenges, and the good with the bad.”