Showing posts with label disabilities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disabilities. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HCS Foundation: Making a Difference Today

The Heritage Christian Services Foundation exists to ensure people with developmental disabilities have the best care and the best quality of life regardless of how the economy is doing.

“Heritage Christian has received Medicaid cuts, which means the need to strengthen our financial base has never been more urgent – so we can maintain the fine services we offer now and ensure our agency will stand strong for generations,” said Mark Zawacki, executive director of the Foundation. “That’s why we’re asking you to give now, to our four key areas.”

·         Spiritual Life: The agency seeks to support people along their journeys of faith and facilitate attendance at places of worship. 

·         Workforce and Talent Retention: The fund will help provide salary increases and professional development, each a critical element in recruiting and retaining the best employees. Also, it will ensure the agency can offer generous benefits that are designed to retain a high quality staff. 

·         Residential Opportunities: Over time, people could face the loss of a parent or a sibling, steep medical bills or other unforeseen challenges. To prepare for that, the agency is creating a fund to ensure that financial grants can be provided in times of change or crisis. 

·         Health and Wellness: Through the creation of the Heritage Christian Services Successful Aging and Wellness program, which is now in a pilot phase, the agency can help individuals age with grace, dignity, greater health, and an even stronger sense of engagement.

 To donate, visit and know that all donations -- up to $1,600 -- will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to the KeyBank Challenge Grant.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sharing lessons of hope

Ken Shaw wasn’t into essays or poetry – or writing of any kind – but he knew he had his own story to tell. So, two years ago he told that story by publishing a 136-page book, and he hopes his life lessons will help others.

“I hope people come away with a better attitude,” he said from Ferncliff Gardens Apartments in Rochester. Even with tough times, “People can still have a good life and be able to be happy.”

Shaw’s book, Trying to Fill the Void, tells how he learned to cope with the death of his father, a Rochester police officer killed in the line of duty when Shaw was only 19 months old. The book also touches on difficult relationships that Shaw has navigated and some of his physical challenges.

“I think the book is really about how my life has progressed – and how it hasn’t progressed,” he said, adding that his friends have enjoyed the book, which is available through “I’m proud of it.”

And a recent stay in the hospital has planted the seeds for a possible second book.

“It would be mostly fact,” he said as his first book sat nearby. “Fiction would be too hard to write.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

Welcoming all of God's children: Ministering to people with disabilities

At Heritage Christian Services we have supported hundreds of people with disabilities to become welcomed and valued members of their local faith communities.  

Along the way we have learned some valuable lessons about assisting congregations with creating welcoming and inclusive environments, including: 

· Congregations that are successful with creating welcoming environments see each unique person that comes through the door. The value of the person is seen first, not any limitations that may exist because of a disability. An example is a man we support who has difficulty seeing the small print in his church hymnal. A deacon in his church realized that the problem was the small font, not the vision. When the environment was changed, that is, when a large print hymnal was provided, the problem was solved.
· Communication is important in any healthy relationship. In families, businesses, and faith communities people need to be able to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and feelings. The need to communicate can, at first, seem to be a barrier in welcoming people who do not communicate in traditional ways, such as by speaking. The welcoming congregations have figured out how to overcome this perceived barrier. The successful relationships have a lot of question-asking at the base of their success. People with disabilities are not offended by sincere questions about how to best communicate with them.
· The faith communities that see the value in the person, both those with and those without disabilities, create welcoming environments where people can come to know about God and to know God. They see a person, not a problem. They see the possibilities, not the barriers. They see God at work in each person.
Written by Lida Merrill, who is the director of spiritual life at Heritage Christian Services and a part-time assistant pastor at Zion West Walworth United Methodist Church. She studied special education and human services administration before earning her master’s degree in theology from Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College. She and her husband have four daughters, one son and three grandchildren. If you’d like to learn more, follow her on Twitter @LidaMerrill.