Billy and John Wanted to Help

When Billy Chapman and John Acfalle were interviewed during the Mentor certification process, one of the questions they were asked was, “Why do you want to be Mentors?”  The answer was simple: “We want to help someone help themselves.”

For Charlie, an older gentleman diagnosed with autism who joined Billy and John in their Sacramento home in 2008, life has never been better.

“Charlie really settled into his permanent home” Program Manager Sara Spencer said.  “He’s grown immensely since coming to Billy and John’s home.  I see calmness in him that wasn’t there before.  He’s making tremendous strides with his social skills.”

Billy and John are consistently willing to adapt to Charlie’s needs and wants, allowing him to make his own life choices.  Charlie loves visiting new places, but didn't enjoy long rides in the car.  To solve this dilemma, Billy and John purchased an RV so that Charlie could travel in comfort and see all that he loved in nature.  They have since traveled to many places, including the Grand Canyon and Sonoma to visit family.

“We knew that, at this point in our lives, we had the patience and understanding to open our home,” Billy said.  “We allow Charlie to be himself, and that’s made a world of difference to him."

With years of experience as a program manager, Sara knows that, when becoming a Mentor, it’s about balancing accountability with the system of support that California MENTOR offers.

“As Mentors, we know we’re not alone” Billy said.  “We want to provide love and care, but we also know when to reach out for help.  California MENTOR gives us that help.  They give us everything we could possibly need in terms of support.”

Shortly after Charlie joined Billy and John, Sara called them to say that she had another individual that she thought would be a good match.  Billy and John weren’t sure they were ready to welcome another individual into their family.  But they agreed to meet Willie at his home of 54 years—the Sonoma State Developmental Center, two hours from Sacramento.

“The day we met Willie, we knew that he would fit very well with us,” Billy said.

Willie, who is 64 years old, officially became part of Billy and John’s home in 2008.  He is unable to speak and has many complex medical issues, but Billy and John are with him around the clock to ensure that his needs are met and that he feels safe and secure at their home.

“Billy and John have really bent over backwards to make sure that Charlie and Willie have more than a roof over their heads,” Sara added.  “They want each gentleman to feel like they have a home to call their own.”