September 2011

Have you thought about this?  What does my staff need to know in order to run a safe program?  What information do we need to harvest from our members to be able to access emergency information?

There are two schools regarding this issue.  First, if you don’t have any information, you may not be liable.  There is a club that runs in the middle of our state.  These are good folks wanting to do good things for the mentally challenged community.  They don’t have any information about the people they bring together for entertainment.

Second, gather as much information as you believe owill be enable you to run a safe program.  At Special Gathering, we worked with many nurses and social workers (support coordinators) to be able to determine what we needed.  These are the things we were told by many professionals that would be needed.

  1. Name of the members
  2. Address, City, State and Zip code
  3. e-mail address of closest relative or staff
  4. main phone number
  5. Date of birth
  6. Name of closest relative
  7. Address, city, state and zip of closest relative
  8. Home, work, cell and any other phone number
  9. Persons to notify in case of emergency (other than closest relative)
  10. Home, work, cell and other phone numbers of emergency person
  11. Name, phone number of support coordinator
  12. Information regarding the person competency status.  (This is a confusing area.  The best question to ask is:  Have you been adjudicated incompetent by a court of  law?
  13. Name and phone numbe rof guardian
  14. List of chronic medical conditions.  Also, a list of procedures necessary if the condition worsens while at Special Gatheirng
  15. Does the person have seizures
  16. List all allergies
  17. List all medications.

Additionally, because of HIPPA Law, we ask that a Consent to Release Confidential Information form be filled out.  This form includes:

  1. Individual’s name
  2. Date of Birth

Statement to support coordinator:  I do hereby authorize the Agency for Person with Disabilities or its representatives to release the information check below from my records, or those of my child, or the individual for whom I am legal guardian.

In the form have these items pre-checked:

For Healthy and Safety

  1. Medications
  2. Allergies
  3. Emergency contacts
  4. Seizure activity
  5. Emergency contact information
  6. Notification of adjudication of incompetency
  7. Notification of change of Support Coordinator (or social worker).

For Pastoral Care

  1. Notification of Hospitalization
  2. Notification of Death in the family
  3. Notification of other sadness

Include name and address of ministry staff who will be responsible for recording this information.  Signatures should include:

  1. Signature of individual
  2. Signature of parent/guardian
  3. Signature of witness (if signed iwth a mark)

The third form is a Support Coordinator Release letter  It should look like this:

Dear (The name of the person’s support coordinator should be put on a line and will need to be  explained on the form)

I am a member of The Special Gathering.  I would like The Special Gathering to be kept up to date with any health concerns that may be needed in an emergency, such as midicine I take and allergies I have.

I would also like The Special Gatheirng to be notified in case I need pastoral care.  If I am sich or hospitalized, if there is a death of a joved one or of other sadness.

The Special Gathering worked with two support coordinators in desinging this release form, but if you have one you would rather use, please bring it to me to sign.

I would also request that you reissue this release form every year at my support form.


________________                                  _________________________________

Member signature                                        Parent of guardian sign

Date                                                                     Date

The fourth form is a simple statement signed by the member what states that they do not want to give any information to Special Gathering.

Except for a member’s salvation, there are few things that are more important than the safety of our members.  As our executive director, Richard Stimson said, “We cannot survive a breach of confidence within the community.”  God blesses those who are wise enough to prepare for the harsh weather

Not sure about your ministry but we often find that there is a need to prepare a meal for a large group.  I like to cook.  Therefore, panic doesn’t set in when I need to throw together a meal for ten, fifteen or twenty people.

I have lots of recipes that lend themselves to larger gatherings.  As Mexican tacos, burritos, and salads have become more popular, they have replaced Italian as my favorite throw together meals.  When making tacos, I use flour tortillas, rather than corn.  Hamburger or another meat can be sauteed quickly in a frying plan.  Ranch Style beans (a brand name) are great as a side dish or to put on your taco. A mixture of condiments can be thrown into separate bowls in minutes and people are heading through the buffet line in less than an hour.

If you cannot break from Italian, be sure to find a packaged sauce that you can live with and use that with your favorite meat and pasta.  One of favorite easy meals has become the three pasta meal.  I usually prepare spaghetti with a marina sauce, fettuccine pasta with an Alfredo or white sauce.  And a cold pasta salad, using almost any larger pasta.  I love to use shells because they are so pretty.

If you aren’t up to cooking, pizza from Domino’s is a mainstay.  Add a salad made from the packaged mixed spring leaves with lettace and tomato and you have a healthy meal.

However, perhaps the best and most economical meal currently is the 12 inch Subway sandwich for $5.  We ask the store to put most of the condiments on the side and allow us to add mayonnaise or mustard.  If you cut the sandwich in to four pieces instead of two, you will find that the meal with stretch farther than you can imagine.

Recently, when we had to serve 33 large adults, we ordered 33 $5 subs.  We asked that they put the condiments on the side, including the mustard and mayonnaise.  We had potato and corn chips, soft drinks and cookies for dessert.

While this wasn’t our plan, there was enough food for two meals, lunch and supper, with three subs left over.  The cost of each meal was about $3.50 person, including drink.  I almost felt as though the Lord was multiplying the food.

Within your ministry, there will be times that you should be prepared to feed a large group of people.  It is wise to have a meal plan stuck somewhere in your back pocket.

This weekend was more than exciting for me and the three choirs who gathered for our annual choir retreat.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our choirs go into churches helping to teach that a person who is developmentally disabled can have a genuine relationship with the Lord.

While we were at Word of Life retreat center, even the drivers and volunteers experienced a blessing from the Lord as they joined in the worship and study.  For me, it was especially thrilling.  Perhaps it was even life changing.

During this time, I realized something about myself.  I’ve loved directing the Special Gathering choirs more than almost anything I do.  I even say that the choirs are my hobby because they are too much fun to be work.  This Saturday, I realized that not only do I love being a choir director; but God helps me to draw from the choir members things which they may not know they can give.  Sure, that is the job of every director but I didn’t actually realize that God was working in this way with me.  It came as a bit of a shock.

We often talk about the importance of learning when to say, “No.”  But there doesn’t seem to be many rules about when to say, “Yes.”  I’ve been asked to consider whether I would be willing to take over all the Special Gathering choirs.  It will mean extra work but I’ve been excited about the prospect of doing this.  The question has been, should I say, “Yes”?  What are the markers that make a right decision easier to make.

I think God taught me how to establish clear markers in decision making during this retreat.  Here are some of the things I learned.

1.  Do you feel God’s pleasure when you are doing this activity?

2.  Are others blessed as much as you are?

3.  Can you see spiritual growth in others when you engage in this activity?

4.  Can you see spiritual growth in your own life when you engage in this activity?

5.  Are you given spiritual insight or revelation from the Lord when you are actively working in this arena?

6.  Does God speak to others when you are doing this?

7.  Do you sense that others take pleasure in helping you to perform this mission?

8.  Are you able to draw others into the circle of influence that this activity produces?

9.  Does this activity give you energy or do you feel drained from the effort?

If you can answer “yes” to most or all of these questions, God is probably in a positive decision.  Most of us won’t be asked to be choir directors; but all of us will face a decision which will demand an answer.  Perhaps these Yes Markers will help us to be able to know God’s will and purpose in our lives.

Is there something that you do that helps you to feel God’s pleasure?  Have you included it into your repertoire of activities?  If not, why not?

Early Friday morning, 33 people from two states gathered for a Special Gathering choir retreat.  As you probably know, Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  People who are developmentally disabled compose the three choirs. This is part of the outreach of Special Gathering into the community and a small portion of what we do.

Our primary purpose for the weekend was to learn the Christmas music that the three choirs will perform in their local communities but God had a different objective.  During Friday practice time, the Holy Spirit ministered to us in uniquely, pleasant ways.  Choir members who had little interest in developing their voices for praising God were sitting on the edges of their seats, responding to the music and director.  Those who love to sing and hungerly grasp all the solos were pressing other less-talented members to try to sing certain solo parts.

During one song, a quiet holiness fell as we sang.  Our rehearsal became worship.  Unexpectedly, four or five people started to cry because of the presence of the Lord.  Together, we laughed and cried as we savored a precious moment as God decided to touch an entire group of people with his love and grace.

On Saturday, we had a short rehearsal and left for a day of playing at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness.  By the afternoon, our fun was interrupted by concern for one of the members.  Late Friday afternoon she had stepped off a curve wrong and twisted her ankle.

She never fell, limped or complained.  She insisted that she was fine and in almost no pain.  We had iced it, called her supervisory staff.  We gave her over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory  medication approved by her staff.  However, by Saturday evening as we traveled home, it was apparent that she was in severe pain.

Additionally, one of our van drivers got lost going home.  We expected her to get home a bit before 10PM.  She did not arrive until 11PM.  When I got a phone call at 10:40 that she was late, I called parents to see if she had gotten stuck at one of their homes.  She had not arrived.  I got dressed; headed out to find her.  As I was pulling out of the driveway, we got a phone call that she had arrived at one of the homes.

On Sunday, the lady with the twisted ankle had to be taken to the hospital.  The doctors found that she had broken her foot.  When staff called me, she was irate that I would allow her to walk on that broken foot for two days without taking her to get medical attention.  This was the same staff person that I’d called three times to give a progress report regarding her condition.  During those conversations, she had not told me that my member had extremely brittle bones because of a new medical condition; and she takes medication for the condition.

Additionally, when I returned home, languishing among my junk mail was a letter from the IRS.   I am being audited by the IRS for the last three years.  The audit is expected to take at least four hours.  The last time I was audited, even though I had receipts and written proof for all my deductions, the auditor refused to look at them and she would not allow the deductions because the audit was taking too much of her time.  It had cost us over a thousand dollars.

As a commissioned minister, I am self-employed.  I save every receipt and form.  I also prepare my own taxes, using Turbo-tax.  Instructions from the IRS on how to prepare for this audit is a five page letter and represents a monumental task.

In contrast, on Sunday morning, a combined choir sang at a large local church.  They were anointed and ministered the Lord in a marvelous way.  As they sang, I sat aside my concerns for my member’s broken foot and the IRS and how the driver got lost.  Quietly, the Lord reminded me of the reassuring calmness that always proceeds severe storms.

I was raised in Charleston, SC.  Hurricanes were an annual event during my childhood.  The 1950’s marked the lowcountry cities with the scars of wild wind and furious rain.  However, after the weather forecast told us about the approaching storm, the neighborhood children would gather on our front walkway. Squatting on the hard, cool concrete, we marveled at the peace and stillness.  While our parents frantically prepared our homes, we would sit quietly, experiencing the calm.

As interesting as the storms were, it was the calm that followed and proceeded each storm that captured my young imagination.  Yesterday, the Lord reminded me of the calm that always attends an approaching storm.  “You would be wise to not let the fury of the storm destroy the peace you feel before and after you are attacked by the enemy of your soul.”

How often I’ve been so caught up by the storm that I lose my perspective of a life lived in Christ.  Joy and triumphant singing go before us each step of the way.  Goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives.  We are wrapped with peace in the middle of the storm.  Yet, I sit in the rocking chair of our soul and rehearse every moment of the last storm.  I recount in my mind the wind and the rain.  I speak to myself about the damage and the despair.

Yep, it appears that another storm period has invaded my life.  But quietly God is saying, “This too shall pass.”  In the meantime, God has touched a small group of mentally challenged folks and used them for his glory.  Does life get much better than that?  I don’t think so.

Brevard, Orange, Osceola, & Seminole Counties
Disability Mentoring Day provides employers to act as Mentors providing opportunities to
help Mentees (adult and student job seekers) with disabilities to build confidence about their
own employability:

· Share firsthand job experiences with those interested in your career field.
· Gain access to a pool of new emerging talent.
· Recruit short and long-term interns.
· Demonstrate positive leadership in their community.
The 11th anniversary of Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) will be commemorated on
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 or other times throughout the year. Statewide activities
will coincide with National DMD events across the country and Florida has the honor of being
the first state to have 100% participation across all counties statewide!

Get Involved in DMD! Be a Mentor!


Employers interested in participating in Disability Mentoring Day can contact the individuals
noted on the back of this flyer. They will assist your company with becoming a workplace
Mentor. Whether you have one employee or several interested in participating in DMD,
there is an opportunity for you.


In communities across Florida, Mentees with disabilities are matched with workplace Mentors
according to expressed career interests. This enables Mentees to learn more about a
typical day on the job and how to prepare for that particular career.


Mentees with disabilities can tour a workplace, meet with various employees on the job and
learn first hand about different types of jobs and related opportunities within that career field.

How? Complete the DMD Mentor Application

Complete the Mentor Application that can be obtained by contacting the
Individuals on the back of this flyer OR download forms at

Able Trust
Florida Governor’s Alliance for the Employment
of Citizens with Disabilities
3320 Thomasville Rd, 200

Tallahassee, FL 32308

850-224-4493 V//TDD
400 W Robinson, Ste 430
Orlando, FL 32801
407-245-0440, Ext 670

Brevard Achievement Center
1845 Cogswell Street
Rockledge, FL 32955

Becoming Doers of God’s Word

James 1:22

Central Theme:  God gives us success when we stand up for Him.

Introduction–Can we follow signs when they are all wrong.  Remember after the hurricanes when the street signs were all twisted in Vero.  Many were gone–almost all are turned the wrong way. These signs say the right things but you can’t see them because they are down on the ground or they are turned the wrong way.  Sometimes our lives get twisted and we become people who don’t do what God wants.

I.     Have a member Read James 1:22.

A. The Apostle Paul wrote about faith and grace.  He said they are God’s free gift.  There is true.

              1. Some people said, “If God’s grace is free; and we get God’s grace when we sin.  We should sin more. Then we will get more grace.”  This is false

2.  James wrote to straighten out this bad treaching.

3.  James said, “You are to not only to listen to God‘s word but you are to do the things you hear about.”

A. How many Sundays I hear the sermon–because I give it–and I think this is good but I don’t do what God’s word teaches me.

II.     We are to be ACTION people.

A. We are to listen to God  AND we are to DO what He says.

1.  We hear, God is love–so we must love the people you meet each day.

2.  We leave the church service and fight over a piece of cake or a chair.

3.  God says feed the poor–Therefore, we should help to get food to people who need it.  Remember when Karen gave money to Brevard Special Gathering to help with expenses of evacuating during the hurricane.

III.     God wants us to be ACTION people.

A. loving, caring, giving.

Conclusion–James said, “we are to do the things we hear.  We are not to merely listen.  We are to be ACTION people.

Part-time help not needed

by Kevin Fowler

This short essay was written by a deacon and member of The Special Gathering of South Carolina

Living for Jesus is not a part-time job.  God, the Father, gave us His Spirit to enable us to be like His Son.  A true Christian will draw others to the light.

Give Christ the key to every room in your life.

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