National Disabilities Awareness Month
March is National Disabilities Awareness Month. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed March “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” The deinstitutionalization movement of the seventies and early eighties had laid the foundation for significant social change, and the presidential proclamation called upon Americans to provide the “encouragement and opportunities” necessary for people with developmental disabilities to reach their potential.
My Friends House, A Children’s Ministry
How does a church provide special-needs children with a place to feel safe and to grow? The Santa Clarita church has found the answer in a unique children’s ministry called My Friend’s House. In 2018, special-needs teacher Delmy Calderon was hired by the church to teach every Sabbath morning and during VBS week. Calderon is a well-known educator in the Santa Clarita Valley who has been described by parents as a “gift from God and so committed to the individual needs of each child.”
But how have they continued the ministry during the pandemic? Not a problem for Delmy. Brett Perry, coordinator of My Friend’s House for the church, reports that Delmy has done a wonderful job keeping things as routine as possible, even though some of the tactile learning has stalled. Santa Clarita church kids have continued to have Sabbath School classes via FaceTime, Zoom, Google Meets, Messenger, or whatever the family needs. They’ve done drive-by birthday celebrations for the children’s birthdays throughout the year, as well. A baptismal class is being planned for when the church can meet in person again.
Sabbath, March 20, is Disabilities Awareness Sabbath.
If you’re interested in starting a special-needs ministry in your local church, the North American Division has resources available.
Capitol City Church Serves as Warming Center and Safe Parking Lot for Unhoused Community Members
Capitol City church in Sacramento is now serving as a warming center and safe parking lot for unhoused community members. Every night of the week, the church hosts up to 35 people, inside and socially distanced, and up to 15 cars in the parking lot.
Carol Herbert, the church’s mission council leader, Senior Pastor Damian Chandler, and Sacramento Councilman Eric Guerra participated in a news conference about the warming center. Four local television stations featured the story, as did a local publication.
Shining Lights at Hawaiian Mission Academy Windward Campus
Students at Hawaiian Mission Academy Windward Campus in Kailua, Hawaii, are given opportunities to reach out to their community in multiple ways. After going through their closets in an early “spring cleaning,” they brought bags and boxes full of clothing to school, which were later delivered to a homeless community. Other students have spent afternoons loading food into vehicles for those in need. HMA Windward Campus strives to be a shining light in their community, whether they are making encouraging cards for emergency workers, donating to Toys 4 Tots, or lending a helping hand to classmates.
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“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?”
– Matthew 25:34-38, ESV