The Freshman Guardian

The same year she started college, Laura Clausing became her sister’s legal guardian. 

In 2004, Laura’s parents had just divorced and moved separately to Colorado, along with Laura’s other sister, Karen.  

Laura had been serving as a standby guardian for her sister Lindy Roehsner, who is supported by Bethesda in one of our group homes in Watertown, Wisconsin. 

But Laura suddenly was Lindy’s only relative living in Wisconsin, and county officials where Laura lived notified her she would become Lindy’s primary legal guardian. Rather shocked at first, Laura’s faith helped her accept the change. 

“I was just starting out on my own at UW-Milwaukee for the first time as my whole family was leaving,” she says. “This was potentially a lot more responsibility, and I was not sure exactly what it was going to entail. But I just figured, you know what? This is how God is going to lead us, so we’re going to trust in him and do what we can.” 

Putting Lindy’s needs before her own has been important, Laura says.  

“Having to think, focus and pray about what’s best for Lindy, for my own sister, has been leading a lot of decisions,” she says. “Such as should I move her closer to me – I’m in the Milwaukee area – but feeling that Bethesda has been doing such a great job of taking care of her and her needs, it was a matter of her needs over my desires for her.” 

Laura says Bethesda has always supported her in her role as guardian. 

“Bethesda has been incredibly helpful and very willing to explain anything and be available,” she says. “I feel like I’ve received enough support from them that I wasn’t way out of my league.” 

Lindy, who turned 30 in July, came to Bethesda when she was 14 years old. Born without disabilities, she was infected with spinal meningitis when she was 2 weeks old. Lindy is non-verbal, but her sister says she is very social and enjoys being near activity. She likes listening to music and television and being in nature.  

While she was growing up, Laura says she never thought of Lindy as different from the rest of her family.  

“I think it really developed who I was today – more mature, more understanding and being more open-minded to others who didn’t look like me, who didn’t act like me,” she says. “I recall being very proud of her and who our family was because of Lindy being in our lives.”  

Laura’s family moved Lindy to Bethesda when it became too difficult for them to take care of her at home. She’s been very pleased with how Bethesda staff have supported Lindy, who was not expected to live past age 10, Laura says. 

“They’ve done such a wonderful job with her,” Laura says. “I wouldn’t want her to be anywhere else. I’ve been so blessed with them.” 

Sibling guardians all have different stories, but what they share is a dedication to their brothers and sisters. People like Laura make a substantial difference every day in their sibling’s life – by supporting and advocating for them, and always caring for and loving them. 

Bethesda’s donors also commit to the people we support. You make sure they are never forgotten. You stand by their side. And through your donation and support of Bethesda’s mission, you help to ease the minds of siblings who encounter countless challenges for their brothers and sisters. 


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