- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) - Construction has started on a project called Rick’s House on the campus of Methodist Manor of the Pee Dee which will soon be a place to call home for four special needs men.

The love of Kathleen Baskin, mother to a special needs man named Frederick “Rick” Howard DeBerry, made the project possible. Baskin wanted to honor her deceased son by helping other special needs men in some way.

Through her home church in Bennettsville, Baskin discovered the Aldersgate Special Needs Ministry, a United Methodist Church program which seeks to prepare for the future of loved ones with developmental disabilities. The ministry builds group homes to give them the highest level of independence in a faith-based setting.

Baskin felt it was the perfect opportunity to honor her son and made a sizable donation five years ago to have a home built in Florence in remembrance of her son. The first shovel went into the ground to begin Rick’s House, with family and friends present to commemorate the event. Construction is scheduled to be complete by early fall.


John Orr, Methodist Manor Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the land was made available on the manor campus because it fills a need the Manor is glad to support.

“There is a real need to be able to house these people that need a home,” Orr said. “Many seniors with special needs children are afraid there won’t be anywhere for them to go. This helps.”

Aldersgate Special Needs Ministry board member Sally Garner said the home will help with a huge growing need for residential care for young adults with special needs. Currently there are two other homes, one for six women in Orangeburg and one for six men in Columbia. Eventually the ministry hopes to build homes all across South Carolina.

Despite his dealing with several disabilities, Baskin said her son was very outgoing and enjoyed life. By age 13 he was blind when doctors discovered scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, causing him to lose his sight.

“He lived ten years past his father and it made me think how many handicap people outlive their parents,” said Baskin, 95, and a resident of Methodist Manor. “Sometimes they don’t have siblings that can take care of them or it’s not convenient for other family members to take care of them.”

Rick’s three sisters, Kathy, Jacquelyn and Maria all helped raise their brother until he died.

“He went everywhere we went. He even learned to ride a bike,” said Maria, Rick’s youngest sister. “I think I have a nurturing personality now because of him. It taught me patience and perseverance.” Middle sister, Jacquelyn O’Dell said the unfortunate part about her brother wasn’t his disabilities but people not being able to see his abilities.

“He was a really smart man. Unfortunately the normal person meeting him wouldn’t know that,” she said. “I was amazed at what he could do with his abilities.”

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Information from: Morning News, http://www.scnow.com