But she soon realized he would need significant assistance, leaving her to wonder — Where will he live? Where will he work? Who will he marry?
Ben, now 16, became Krista’s inspiration for founding Benjamin’s Hope, a place for families dealing with developmental disabilities.
“When you learn your child has a diagnosis that brings struggle, it can be an overwhelming thing,” Krista said. “Now, 16 years later, Ben being an inspiration … I think we can bring hope for thousands of families.”
When the Masons learned Ben had autism, about 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with the disorder. It’s now 1 in less than 100, Krista said.
“You really find yourself in desperate need when school comes to a close,” she said.
Benjamin’s Hope is a public/private partnership that’s being built debt-free because of community donations. The organization's board launched a fundraising campaign in October 2010, and has since raised $4 million of the $5 million needed for it.
Benjamin’s Hope also works with Community Mental Health of Ottawa County to use available public funds to serve people with disabilities.
The site is being built at 15468 Riley St. in Holland Township.
As visitors drive onto the property, there will be a barn for therapeutic horseback riding on the left. To the right, there will be a farm and garden area, where pumpkins are currently growing.
At the center of the property will be a community center that will house a church. Krista said research suggests about 8 percent of families with special needs don’t attend any church.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.