Isolation is one of the largest problems experienced by special needs families. It’s funny how it starts with you just trying to do everything you can for your child… and then, you realize you’re doing nothing for yourself and you’ve
cut yourself off from others. It’s not intentional and it comes from a place of wanting to give your special needs child everything they need and not
wanting to expose them to situations they can’t handle. Eventually, you don’t take vacations, you don’t attend parties, you don’t go to dinner, etc. It’s funny how innocently the isolation begins.
PM Pals was born for that very reason. Parents of special needs children need a break. They need to connect with each other and with friends. This monthly kids’ night out hosts special needs children and their siblings for fun activities with one to one “pals.”
Recognizing those with special needs is important during worship times as well. The hustle bustle of Sunday mornings is high energy and lots of fun, but some special needs children need a calmer experience. At St. Luke’s, Kids’ Pals realizes that need and pairs a special needs child with a loving adult while parents attend worship.
Adults with special needs gather in community each Sunday in the Joy Class. Inclusion in worship begins with desire to be together, and since many of these adults do not drive, St. Luke’s provides transportation. We value our brothers and sisters and want and need for them to be with us. As is often true in our service to others, the big win is for the volunteers. “People tell all of us who volunteer, ‘You’re so good to help the Joy Class’. And I always want to say, ‘You know, we get out so much more than we give. The gift is mutual – they are our friends. It is a delightful part or our week.’”
Vita Living’s “Neff House” provides 24-hour care for five older adult men who have mental and physical challenges and have no family members to care for them. The Encounter Contemporary Worship Service partners with Neff House to help paint, repair and update the home. While the group completes work projects, they interact with the men and their care takers showing love and compassion and reminding them that the world, St Luke’s and God loves each and every one of them. And isn’t this what we all want to hear? “You matter to God and you matter to me!”