October 2011

Teaching our members the importance of Halloween can enhance their day and teach lessons of faith and sacrifice.  These are the trow meaning of Halloween.

Yesterday, I found a doll that I received at Christmas when I was in the fourth or fifth grade.  It was a “walking doll,” stuck back in a closet, I barely use.  These specialty dolls would walk if you held their hand and moved them in exactly the right way.

Walking dolls were the rage that year and every little girl got one.  Even though I was getting too old for dolls, I love it and I’ve kept it in the top of a closet for about 55 years.  She is a mess and certainly won’t ever be a sell-able item in years to come.

A good friend collected marbles all during his childhood.  Today, they are valuable collectibles.  However, his parents decided that these toys belonged to them–not him.  In fact, without consulting him, they gave the marble treasure to his sister.

All Saints’ Day costumes

All of us have special memories from our childhood.  Some are gifts and toys.  Most of them revolve about special days and events.  For me Halloween was one of those.  I grew up in the days that parents didn’t buy costumes.  All the children in the neighborhood got together and we made our own dress-up attire.  The guys wore their baseball uniforms or wore an eye batch and their older sister’s white blouse with their dad’s over-sized pants and became pirates.  The less creative girls, like me, were usually gypsies.

The candy was the super star of the day.  We cared little about what the day meant.  Yet, we loved getting that candy from neighbors.  By the time my children were at the trick-or-treat stage, creepy crawlers had moved onto the scenes because parents had started to manage the day and the event.  One home in our neighborhood was decorated.   Sears always had costume pajamas that I purchased for the children.  My daughter was always an angel.

All Saints’ Day light

In reality, Halloween is a transliteration of the two words Hallowed Eve or Holy Eve.  October 31 is the day before one of the most holy days of the Christian calendar, All Saints Day. On November 1, the church in the 1800’s took the day to remember saints who have lived and died to insure the spread of the good news of Christ’s death and God’s redeeming love.

I am often asked what I think about Halloween.  In short, I don’t celebrate the day.  However, I hate that playing with evil and a glorification of Satan has overtaken a holy time of remembrance.  Goulds and skeletons which celebrate death and slaughter are freely greeted.  Yet, the holy Babe who was laid in a manger and Holy Week are being outlawed.  After all, remembering God’s sacrificial love is much more dangerous to society than blatant evil.

Could it be that the Church has given away another holy time?  How many of us celebrate November 1, All Saints Day?  Wouldn’t a renewal of this holiday by the Church at least off set for Christians a holiday gone bad?

God gives us the Power change our lives

Ephesians 6:7

Central Theme:  God wants us to serve others.

Introduction–A man told me that he saw a another man mopping up a spill.  He said, “I assume you are the manager.”  The bosses in stores get to do the dirty work.  God’s way is to promote us into becoming a servant to everyone Have a member read Ephesians 6:7.

I.     Tell the story of James’ and John’s mother and Dorcas.

A. Mom wanted James and John to be number one in the Kingdom.

B. Dorcas knew how to be number one.

1.  She was a servant to everyone.

II.     At Special Gathering, no one gets to big to do the dirty work.

A. Show the fanny packs we use at camp.

1.  They have rubber gloves because the people who wear the fanny packs get to clean up messes–nasty messes.

B. We had a staff one time who told me that he didn‘t clean up messes any more that he had paid his dues–that was the wrong answer.

III.     God wants us all to be the servant.

A. Our deacons get the jobs that no one else wants to do like setting up the building.

B. They don‘t get to push the wheel chairs because everyone wants to do that.

C. They get to clean the floors, set up tables and chair, etc.

Conclusion  The heart of a real man of God must be to serve others.

For your information:  This is a memo from Cathy Beldell, Deputy General Counsel for APD regarding justification of cost reductions in res hab.  

From:  Cathy Bedell/APD/DCF
To:  10/18/2011 04:56 Gerald Siebens/APD/DCF@DCF, Zaynab  PM Salman/APD/DCF@DCF, Llamilys Bello/APD/DCF@DCF, Tomea Sippio-Smith/APD/DCF@DCF, Melinda Powers/APD/DCF@DCF, Angela Green/APD/DCF@DCF, Melissa  Dinwoodie/APD/DCF@DCF
> cc Jamie Morrow/APD/DCF@DCF, Denise  Arnold/APD/DCF@DCF
Subject  Re cost plan reviews of res hab services

In response to the question posed at our Monday meeting about the reduction of res hab services as part of the cost plan review, the following is my understanding of what is required.
If a reduction to res hab IB or BF is recommended, that decision should be supported and reviewed by the area behavior analyst. It should also be supported by the support plan or progress notes.

If the reduction is related to other res hab levels,i.e., extensive 1 or minimal, the area staff can make that decision based on facility reports or the support plan. This is especially true where res hab may have been adjusted upward for a temporary condition–recent surgery or increase in behavior incidents– and never reduced, as well as where the behavior or condition that supported the original placement has diminished or no longer exists.
> Catherine Bedell
> Deputy General Counsel
> Agency for Persons with Disabilities
> 4030 Esplanade Way; Suite 380
> Tallahassee, FL 32399-0950
> Phone: 850.414.0139
> Fax: 850.410.0665
> Toll Free: 1.866.273.2273
> E-mail: cathy_bedell@apd.state.fl.us

The mentally challenged community loves Halloween and they are encouraged by the professionals who work with them to celebrate the day in a big way.  Therefore, we should be teaching them the roots and truth behind this day of Christian remembrance.  This will help.

About 1400 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantine (Greek Orthodox) Church unofficially adopted a fun celebration the day before All Saints’ Feast Day.  The day became known as All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween.

The purpose  of this time was to mock evil.  Dressing up like skeletons and wearing death masks, people–young and old–paraded through the streets and celebrated our freedom from evil through the sacrifice of Jesus.

After studying the subject, it appears that this All Hallow’s Eve  commemoration sprang up as an informal celebration.  Later, known as Halloween, the day formed from a joyful expression rising from the villagers and common folk who wanted to express in a playful and joy-filled way their release from sin and fear.

Other than Resurrection Day, All Saints’ Day is the most holy day within the Liturgical Calendar.  It started within the eastern (Byzantine) and western (Roman Catholic) churches, sometime in the early 600’s.

The foundation of the celebration came from the tremendous persecution Christians experienced in the early days of the church.  Torture and death under the Roman Empire had run rampant for the early believers.  Rome’s emperors needed a scape goat to explain the decline of the empire.  Torturing Christians became a reflective entertainment for the masses.  It was a distraction from the woes the Roman citizens were experiencing.  As a result, All Saints Day was a holy day of honoring these martyrs.  Christians still living expressed their love and gratitude for the sacrifices and deaths of the early Christians.

The scriptural bases was the New Testament teaching that those Christians who have died pray for us who are still alive, interceding before the Father.  This is not a day to worship the saints but to venerate and acknowledge their past, present and future contributions to the growth of all Christians, by remembering their prayers and faithfulness.  At first it was time of feasting to remember the martyrs.  Later, the expressions of joy were extended to all saints, living and dead.  Within the Roman Catholic Church, this celebration is focused on men and women who have been canonized as saints.  Most Protestants dropped the celebration of All Saints Day, even though they have clung to the celebration of Halloween.

In the 600’s, the day before All Saints Day (Halloween) became a time to remember the poor.  Dressed in their evil-mocking costumes and masks, the poor would visit the homes of their more prosperous neighbors.  The poor would be given sweet buns to carry back to their families.  It appears that the custom grew from the fact that the more prosperous neighbors wanted to be sure that the entire community would have enough provision to celebrate All Saints’ Day.  This wasn’t a custom glorifying begging but of blessing others with gifts.  The giving of sweets was an expression of love by the Church, desiring that all people would share in God’s gracious provision on this holy day.  As the custom grew, it playfully became known as trick-or-treat.

Slowly, over the 1500 years that have elapsed, the customs of dressing up and receiving sweet treats from neighbors has stuck.  Sadly, the original meaning of the celebration has been long forgotten, even by Christians.  In fact, within Protestant traditions, the day is more and more rejected as witchcraft, wicca and other evil religious orders have adopted the day as a time of glorification of evil, rather than mocking.

Too often within the traditions of the Church, mocking evil becomes glorification.  Christian feast days–like Christmas and Resurrection Day–become an excuse for drunkenness and gluttony.  Perhaps Halloween–the day before a time of most holy remembrance–should not be ignored by Christian.  Perhaps it should become a wake-up call.  While we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, our Adamic nature lurks concealed by religious zeal ready to pounce and pervert even those things which are most holy in our lives.

When does mocking evil become glorification?  It isn’t merely the day of Halloween that I struggle.  I wrestle with it every day.  Maybe we need to learn to respect and avoid the enemy of our souls.  The Bible tells us to flee from evil rather than try to overcome evil in our own strength.  Jesus’ death releases us from the fear of death and hell; it doesn’t give us license to flirt with sin.

In the meantime, I want to bless the children in my neighborhood with sweet treats.  I will pray for them, asking God that they too will become part of the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church.


Dear AAIDD Member,

Halloween is coming soon. Hopefully your kids or grandchildren are all prepared for costumes and who or what they will be. And, time to buy or make whatever you are giving away for treats.

You may hear the clergy voice in me by making the analogy that this is also the time to celebrate colleagues and organizations for who they are and who or what they have been and contributed to the field and the people we support. I’ll try to resist carrying the analogy too far, but as you may know, a national award can indeed be a real treat to the people or organizations who receive them, as well as to the people who take the time to send in the nominations.

So if you feel so inclined, conspire with some others as you wish to send in a nomination or two. And, feel free to spread this invitation to non AAIDD members or networks.

The deadline for the 2012 AAIDD Award nominations has been extended until Friday, November 11. 

Thank you!

For more information and to download the nomination form, please visit the AAIDD website here
Membership in AAIDD is not required to be nominated.
Nominate a deserving individual today!

Bill Gaventa, Chair, AAIDD Awards and Fellowship Committee

This is an email I received from Bev Linder today.  I wanted to share this with you.  Brad had many physical disabilities and died a few years ago.

Dear friends,
The following is one of the blogs on my website.  Many of you who receive this mailing may not be aware of my blog.  To view more blogs click here.
When I was home schooling Brad, I would sometimes go out of the house for a while and leave him doing his schoolwork.  He would invariably call me, and about 95% of the time, his first words were, “When will you be home, Mom?”  My answer varied–sometimes I had a bunch to do yet; sometimes, I had only one or two more errands; and some days I would say, “Guess what, Brad.  I’m driving into our driveway right now and should be walking through the door any minute!” Now Brad is in heaven…


…and while I was out today, I looked at my cell phone and I could almost hear him saying, “When will you be home, Mom?”  It struck me that Brad really is still waiting for me to come home, only now it is our eternal Home.  I believe with all my heart that our loved ones in heaven still love us and look forward to being with us just as much as we look forward to being with them.
The difference now is that I don’t know when I will be Home.  I may still have much to do on this earth; or maybe I only have a few things that God wants me to accomplish; or maybe I am just about to walk through that door!
And just like when I would leave Brad home when I did my errands, although he is looking forward to seeing me and others that he loves, he is not sitting around idly. When he was here, he was busy doing his school work.  Now, he is busy in heaven.  2 Corinthians 5:9 says, “Therefore we have as our ambition whether at home or absent (whether in heaven or still on earth) to be pleasing to Him.”  I have the same ambition as my son (and other loved ones in heaven)–to be pleasing to Christ in my service.
And I’ll be Home, soon Brad…not sure how soon, but soon!
Bev Linder
contact me at:
This is a description of a good friend’s adventure in December 2010.  Dave is the executive director Gillespie Services which provides housing and day services for people within the intellectually disabled community.  A Special Gathering volunteer, he  is a quiet man, not prone to exaggeration, extremes or drama.

Even though it’s been almost a year since it happened, each time he tells his experience, he cries.  Usually, people who hear his story cry.  In his simple telling, there is  powerful evidence of God’s mercy and grace.

I had chest pains and was so dizzy I could not lift my head. My wife called an ambulance and I was taken to our local hospital in Melbourne, Florida.
Around 2AM the next morning my journey to heaven began.  I went through a tunnel filled with  gorgeous flowers. The colors and smell were nothing I had ever seen or smelled.  I went through light on the other side.
I saw a white fence that went on for as far as I could see; and I saw an angel who was just a little bigger than I am.  She had  wings and she was playing a harp.   She played the harp during my entire visit to heaven.
On the other side of the fence I could see a road made of gold and Jesus standing at the gate. The road was firm and solid but so clear that I could see the clouds underneath it.
When I saw Jesus, I thought, Wow! It is really him.  He looks exactly like his pictures, except his eyes are a bright sky-blue.  He wore a white robe with gold fringe.
Next, I saw four of my family members. They were dressed in white.  I saw my mother, step-father (who raised me), grandmother (my mother’s mother) and my Uncle Mike. (My mother raised him starting at ten years old when my grandmother died of a heart attack.  He was like my brother.)  They all looked between 21 and 34 years of age.
I talked with my mother first. I asked her if she was still in pain. She had died of cancer. She said, “No.” She asked me how my brothers and sister are doing.
I talked to my step-dad and brought up that I was disappointed that he never got around to legally adopting me.  That had been his plan, but inadequate funding prevented him from being able to carry out the plan. He was the Chief of Police of Stow, Ohio.  He died of a heart attack when I was 15 years old.  He said that he was also very sorry that he was unable to get that done for me.
Next I talked with my Uncle Mike.  He also died of a heart attack.  He suffered with heart pain before his death and refused to seek help.  I asked him why he didn’t go to the doctor and he said that he didn’t want anyone to cut him open. I told him that I had open heart surgery and that it isn’t that bad and that he could be alive today if he had sought help. He again stated that he didn’t want anyone to cut him open and he was happy in heaven.
The last family member I talked to was my grandmother.  I thanked her for helping me with my speech when I was in elementary school.  At that time, I had a speech impediment.  She worked with me on some of the letters that gave me trouble.  She told me that was a great time for her being with me. Grandmother was shocked that I remembered this.  My grandmother looked younger than I ever remember seeing her.
After I talked with each one of my family present, Jesus talked to me. He said I could enter the gate if I wanted. However, he said my job on earth was not complete and he wanted me to return.  ”But,” Jesus said to me, “it is your choice.”  He would let me enter the gate if I wanted.  He told me I had a wonderful family. I told Jesus I would return to earth.  Jesus said, “I’m glad you made this choice.”
When I returned, I did not go through the tunnel. I could see my body sitting up in my hospital bed.  I remember thinking, “How am I sitting up? I wasn’t able to sit up earlier.”  You see, I was so dizzy when I came to the hospital, I could not lift my head. I remember floating through the air and returning into my body.
I wanted to call my best friend, Linda, and my wife, Pam, to tell them. I looked at the clock and it was 3:00AM. Jesus spoke to my heart and said, “You can wait until morning to tell the story. You will remember it.”
I waited until morning and called my wife and asked her and my friend to come to the hospital as I just returned from heaven and wanted to tell them my story.
My friend Linda said she believed I died because I expelled my body fluids and the nurse had to clean me up. My trip seemed to take about 15 to 20 minutes.  Yet, I was connected to heart monitors.  I was never pronounced dead, nor did any of the heart monitors show any signs of death.  I guess it is true that a day is like a thousand years and vice versa to God.  He can do all this work in the twinkle of an eye.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz1bszo4Nv6

This weekend I had the honor of teaching a group of wonderful volunteers who minister to the mentally challenged community.  They put in thousands of  hours each year.

Our teachers and volunteers, instruct, transport and love the members of the The Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the intellectually disabled community.  Our mission is aggressively and unapologeticly  evangelistic and focused on discipleship of the community we serve.  However, we could not do what we do without our many volunteers.

Occasionally, when we are looking for people to hire and become staff members, there is one volunteer who stands out from the rest.  Dorothy Anne was one of those.  As I was looking for a supervisor for one of our programs, our executive director came to me.  ”Have you considered Dorothy Ann?” he asked.  ”You know, I’ve been watching her for years.  She gets it.  She understand what we do.”

This weekend as I was studying to teach, the She Gets It Factor came to mind.  While I had instinctively known what our exec was saying, the She Gets It Factor was an abstract principle.  To teach, I needed to take it from the gut feeling and intuitive arena and pull it into the cognitive part of my brain.

For Special Gathering, the She Gets It Factor falls into two areas.  First, there is the spiritual aspect of ministry.  We believe that people who are intellectually disabled need to hear the gospel on an intellectual level that they can comprehend.  This principle is in our DNA.  You cannot divide that from who we are.  Most of our members cannot and do not understand the theological implications wrapped around the arguments that divide the church bodies into different denominations.  Yet, we believe that understanding the fundamental claims of Christ are essential.  That is what we teach.

Second, supervision, health and safety are issues that most ministries do not have to be concerned.  Of course, our members are adults.  Nevertheless, their thinking processes reside somewhere on a fourth or fifth grade level.  Their social interactions are junior high.  Most of our members don’t drive.  They must be transported to and from our chapel programs and most of our activities.

Additionally, nearly all of our members have some physical or medical limitations.  Each week, we transport between 200 to 250 people.  This means 400 to 500 trips because we pick them up and take them home.  Both their medical limits and the transportation issues add to our responsibility.  Our philosophy is that we pay people to be responsible for the day to day operations of the ministry.

The She Gets It Factor for us means that a person understands not only our mission but our culture.

Yet, as I thought and prayed about the She Gets it Factor, I was amazed at how many areas of life this principle applies.  Each church has its own cultural bent.  Understanding the unique culture of a business enterprise often becomes more important than understanding the tasks you are to perform.  Additionally, all families operate on the She Gets It Factor.

Whether the family structure is small or large, there is a pulsing, alive organizational plan where every successful family member abides.  As an example, some families are dysfunctional and work within the framework of unhealthy interdependence.  When a family member begins to grow beyond the dysfunction, they will either change the culture of the family or they will be forced out of the family.

Several years ago after a marital crisis, Mark turned his life over to Christ at a different level.  He had accepted the Lord as a young man but God began to work on his heart.  Suddenly, he and his wife wanted to put Christ first in their entire lives.  Church-as-usual was not an option for them.  They wanted to know Jesus in an intimate relationship. This set off problems in every area of their lives.  Why?   Family members, church members or the business culture where they work no longer coincide with their core beliefs.  Conflicts and uncomfortable feelings develop.  S/He no longer gets it.

Fortunately, their family slowly saw new joy and peace in their lives.  One by one their family’s members experienced a reality and vitality they had not known.  They wanted what Mark and his wife had found.  Inch by inch, their family culture changed because of his influence.

After working several years within their church structure, Mark was approached by the leadership.  These men and women lovingly suggested that they find a place of worship that better fit their newfound zeal.  The leadership even suggested a congregation that they felt would better fit Mark and his wife’s total commitment outlook.

The She Gets It Factor moves and releases us.  Every person has experienced the positive and negative effects of this factor in our lives.  Too many times, it happens without any analysis or cognitive reasoning.  When we are merely following gut reactions, our impulses develop into hurt feelings and loss of friendships.  Understanding the She Gets It Factor helps us to move freely without the uncomfortableness of anger or dissatisfaction.

When was the last time that you realized that you moved into a different cultural setting and without being told you understood that You Got It?  When was the time that your cultural gages changed and you needed to make a change?

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/2011/10/the-she-gets-it-factor.html#ixzz1biZtTq5j

Every stress-relieving prescription in books or articles begin and end with “throw away, organize and simplify. ” Therefore, it isn’t hard to see the pattern that the experts recommend for eliminating stress.

Following the advice of these men and women who have studied these things, I’ve looked around to find where I can simplify my life.  Here and there, piece by piece, I’ve whittled at the excesses.

Over the years, I learned that I am effected by the things which surround me.  Walking through the grocery store brings about extreme sensory overload for me.  It is as though I have a complete brain drain as I enter the doors of Wal-Mart.  Without a list, I never leave the store with all the things I need, no matter how much money I spend.

Yet, like the experts advise, I find that simple things restore my sanity.  A walk around the block relishing the brisk fall breezes.  Sitting on the beach watching the waves with my feet covered with wet sand.  Propped against two pillows reading my Bible each night before I go to sleep.  Waking before dawn to share moments with the King of the Universe in intimate conversation.

Tonight I had supper with friends. Afterwards, we talked for hours.  I explained a disturbing dream I had this week.  My friend took the dream and helped me to understand a complex issue that has troubled me for several months.  The answer was simple.

Here and there, I find that the more I learn, the more I don’t understand.  The more I desire to be holy, the more I realize how far I must travel toward that goal.

Yet, in the middle of these confusing issues, one simple principle remains steady. God loves me and He desires my love more than my adherence to a group of legalities.  God loves me and no matter how much I fail him, he stands ready to forgive, cleanse, release and heal.  God loves me and my failures don’t surprise him.  He knew about them before I was even born.  Yet his love for me is unchanging.

Darting back and to, here and there, I’m confused and disoriented.  But resting in the gracious arms of his love, I’m safe and secure.  In his love, life becomes simple.  In Him, I am made complete.

God wants us to Stand up for the Right Thing

Esther 4:14

Central Theme:  God wants us to stand up for the right things.

 Introduction–Making decisions are a part of all of our lives.  When my phone rings, I have to decide whether to answer it or not.  I won‘t answer it when I am sharing my devotions but I might have someone else answer it if it seems to be an important call.  We can decide to do the right thing.  Have a member read Esther 4:14

I.     Tell the story of Esther.

A. Her uncle Modecai wanted her to stand up against the Haman.

B. Esther had to make a decision.

C. Her decision was based on the good word from her uncle.

II.     God will give you help if you want to stand up for him.

A. He will put you in the right place at the right time.

B. He will give you encouragement if you need it.

C. He will teach you that your decisions are important.

III.     Standing up for what is right can save many people.

A. Or standing up for what is right may just be the right thing to do.

B. Esther was able to see how many lives her good thing saved.

C. We are not always able to see who much we help others.

D. But doing the right thing will help us to grow stronger.

Conclusion      Standing up for what is right may change the life of many people or it may just help us to get stronger.

Want to Share the Good News?

by Michelle Demeree

Ms. Demeree is a member of The Special Gathering.  She serves as a deacon and on our Board of Directors. Her passion is writing.  Ms. Demeree is a vital part of our ministry.

Do you want to share the good news?  We have been celebrating the 25 years that Special Gathering has been here.  We have been happy about our group and our friendships.

We come together each week to share God’s love with each other.

We all need to be excited about what we have.  We should be sharing with people we know that we have a place to learn about God.  In this way we can share the Good News of God’s love.  Where do you learn about God?  Why aren’t you sharing?

As I knew he would, Chad squealed when he heard my voice on the phone.  “Linda! You called me!”

I had called in response to a request from a staff member at his group home.  She asked if I would come to see Chad who had been admitted to the hospital today because of seizures. As I talked to the group home staff,  I realized it was almost 9pm and I am an hour away.  I promised to visit him tomorrow.  “He’s asking to see you.  I know that you can’t come tonight but would you call him?” she asked.

Chad and I talked for a few minutes and I promised to come to the hospital tomorrow.  “Bring my friend when you come,” he pleaded.

“Chad, I can’t bring Mark.  He’ll be at school when I come.”  Chad is an active participant of The Special Gathering in Vero.  He is 35 years old and Mark is his best friend at our Vero program, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged (developmentally disabled) community.  We do classic ministry, evangelism and discipleship.

Mark is 19 and these two young men formed a comradeship during our van route each Saturday.  Mark is not very verbal which suits Chad fine because he talks more than any three people should.  Chad chatters and Mark laughs, grunts or smiles at the appropriate times.  As they part late each Saturday afternoon, Chad will say, “I love you, Mark.”  And Mark will say, “I love you.”  Their friendship is genuine and touching.

At Chad’s request, I promised to call Mark and ask him to pray for his friend.  Within minutes, I was speaking to Mark’s mother.  “Chad, Mark’s friend from Special Gathering, is in the hospital.  He wanted me to call Mark and ask Mark pray for him.”

“What?” Mark’s mother asked, not quite understanding my request.  I repeated Chad’s question.  This time Mother understood and she was emotionally shaken.  “I’ll have him pray,” she said, in a broken voice.  I understood. There was joy in her emotions.

Before Mark came to Special Gathering, his mother had confided to me that he had only one or two friends.  Now, a friend needed Mark’s help in prayer.  The acidic bitterness of loneliness is something that we all taste in our lifetimes.  But loneliness can be the throbbing, constant pain with which our members reside.  We desire that Special Gathering be a safe place for our members.  I am so thankful that it has become not only a safe place for Mark but a place where his prayers are needed and wanted.

Do you struggle with loneliness?  Do you know someone who wrestle with the specter of being left alone?  Can you help them find friendship and meaning?  What was your most difficult time of loneliness?

On October 14, about 20 ministry leaders flew into Chicago O’Hare Airport to steal a day of fellowship and learning.  This third annual event developed from the need of several people who wanted an excuse to spend more time together in an informal setting.

Deliberately, I didn’t take notes because I wanted to garner from these women and men the essence of where disability may be headed.  Some of what I saw was surprising.  This is where I learned things that were unexpected for me.

1.  Each leader could have talked about the things that went wrong during the year.  Rather, they chose to face the future with a bold expectation.  One leader had been struck with a shocking blow that week but even she had come leaning forward anxious to see what God will do in the future.

2.  Because most of our members also have physical concerns, keeping our friends who are part of our ministries safe is paramount in their list of needs.  However, these problems were not looked on as unattainable obstacles but mere distractions with which they had to deal.  In fact, while safety was the undercurrent of each topic,  it was not even openly discussed.

3.  There was no one who desired to monopolize the time or conversation; but each one genuinely came to learn from their peers.

4.   Some of those people who know the most about disability ministry seemed to be the most anxious to observe and learn.

5.  Genuine friendship and respect have been forged among these men and women.

6.  They are extremely gifted.  Yet they have allowed the Lord to change their life’s direction to serve a people who worship without guile.

Many people prophetically say that God is about to do great things in the world.  After spending a day with these leaders, I know the Lord has drawn away people with great spiritual gifts to lead these growing ministries.  I am looking forward to see how God will bless their sacrifices by reaching out and using people with disabilities.

This is information from waiverprovider.com.  Thanks to Florida Unites and Aaron Nangle  for providing this important information.

APD Announces A Schedule of Cuts

            Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD)

      Director Mike Hansen presented an update on the agency’s cost-containment efforts today to the House of Representatives Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Legislature approved $810 million for APD’s Medicaid waiver for the 2011-12 state fiscal year that began on July 1. APD customers received $930 million worth of services last year.

The agency has been working to bring its waiver expenditures within the Legislative appropriation this fiscal year. The agency is also looking for opportunities to increase waiver flexibility and equity for customers, while continuing to protect their health and safety.

Earlier this month, APD shared five cost containment initiatives with various legislative committees that would reduce APD’s waiver obligations. The director was asked to bring back a proposed timeline for implementing the changes.

The timeframes may be contingent on developing new rules or federal approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

At today’s meeting, Hansen announced plans to standardize payment rates for intensive behavior residential habilitation beginning January 1, 2012. Also on that same date, the agency will begin collecting fees from APD customers who have income to offset some of their costs of living in a group home.

APD plans to reduce the rates it pays for therapy assessments and all nursing services to the standard rate paid by the Medicaid State Plan beginning April 1, 2012.  Currently, the APD Medicaid waiver pays higher rates for most of these services.

Also on the same date, APD will reduce the difference it pays between solo providers and agencies for waiver services to no more than 20 percent. Currently, those rates may differ up to 43 percent.

There was no timeline announced today for implementing cost sharing for parents who have children on the Medicaid waiver. APD is working with the Agency for Health Care Administration on this issue.

The change to the waiver requires federal approval.

After pursuing these cost-containment initiatives to APD’s Medicaid waiver, the agency expects to realize more than $14 million in reduced expenditures on an annual basis. 

For the APD document, click on the link below

Cost-Containment Plan Fiscal Year 2011-2012

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